French police have said Fofana called himself the "brain of the barbarians" and sent two officers to Ivory Coast on Tuesday after Fofana fled back to his native country following the death of Ilan Halimi near Paris earlier this month.
Ivory Coast state prosecutor Raymond Kimou told Reuters that Fofana had been detained in the country's main city Abidjan.
"He [Fofana] was arrested last night in the Abobo district by the Ivorian police," Kimou said early on Thursday. "We will have an inquiry because there is a procedure to follow before handing him over to French authorities."
Halimi, 23, was found naked, tortured and burned south of Paris after being held for three weeks by a gang demanding a large ransom. He died of his injuries shortly afterwards.
This week French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy denounced Halimi's killing as an anti-Semitic crime and said police investigating it had linked some suspects to documents supporting Palestinian and arch-conservative Islamic causes.
French police have said Fofana's gang used young women to lure potential targets to locations where they could be kidnapped. The woman who lured Halimi has given herself up to police and several other suspects are under investigation in France.
Chirac to attend memorial for murdered Jewish man French President Jacques Chirac and his prime minister will attend a synagogue memorial ceremony Thursday for Halimi.
Chirac's government has said anti-Semitism seemingly played a role the killing of Halimi, a 23-year-old mobile phone salesman whose kidnapping January 21 and death have shocked France.
Chirac's office announced Wednesday that he will attend a ceremony for Halimi at a Paris synagogue on Thursday night, as will Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, meanwhile, said he will attend a march Sunday in Paris against racism and anti-Semitism. The opposition Socialists also called for people to join the march to protest "this odious crime."
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that the kidnappers were
primarily motivated by greed and believed Jews were wealthy targets. Raids by police probing Halimi's killing turned up documents supporting a Palestinian aid group and others with a militant Islamic character, he said without elaborating.
French immigration jumps due to rise in anti-Semitic attacks
Israel saw a sharp increase in new immigrants last year from France, where a wave of anti-Semitic attacks prompted a 2004 call by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for French Jews to move to the Jewish state.
While overall immigration to Israel was nearly flat from 2004 to 2005, the number of immigrants from France shot up by 27 percent in 2005 after gaining 12 percent in the previous year, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
France is home to Western Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities and many recent anti-Jewish attacks have been blamed on Muslim youths angry at the situation in the Middle East.
The rise in attacks prompted Sharon's appeal last year to French Jews to escape anti-Semitism by emigrating to Israel. Sharon's call briefly set back Israeli-French relations.
Concerns over anti-Semitism in France resurfaced this week after the torture and killing of a young Jewish man. French officials called it an anti-Semitic crime and police found literature linking some suspects to Muslim causes.
Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for Israel's quasi-governmental Jewish Agency that encourages new immigrants, said anti-Semitism was likely a factor for many of the French Jews that moved to Israel.
"When the atmosphere becomes negative and people are looking for an option to move to a better neighbourhood ... they might as well come home to Israel," he said, adding that many of them were likely descendants of Jews from North Africa who moved to France in the late 1950s.
The annual immigration figures are closely watched amid Israeli concerns that without an influx of foreign Jews the country's Arab minority - which has a far higher birth-rate - could eventually outnumber the Jewish population.
Jews constitute 76 percent of Israel's population of 6.99 million people while Arabs make up 20 percent.
The Central Bureau of Statistics said there were 21,126 newcomers in 2005, up slightly from 20,893 in 2004. That followed a 10 percent drop in new immigrants from 2003 to a 15-year low.
The influx of new immigrants has been well below the 70,000 to 200,000 a year that followed the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
There was a sharp immigration drop-off in 2000 after the start of the current Palestinian uprising. A recession in the early part of the decade was also viewed as a factor.
In recent years, however, suicide bombings and other Palestinian attacks have declined substantially while the Israeli economy has rebounded.
Over the last five years, some 203,000 people have moved to Israel. Nearly 1 million, mostly from formerly Soviet bloc countries, immigrated in the 1990s, the bureau said.
In addition to France, the number of immigrants from the United States rose 8 percent in 2005. In contrast, immigration from Ukraine, Asia and Argentina declined the most.
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