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Tourist murder probe suspect freed

Argentine police detained, then released a suspect they questioned over the murders of two French women who were apparently kidnapped, raped and shot while on holiday in a northern province.

The crime prompted both governments to express concern and press for a complete investigation.

The bodies of Moumni Houria, 23, and Cassandre Bouvier, 29, were found on Friday alongside a hiking and horse riding trail in the Quebrado de San Lorenzo, a mountainous and forested park just above the capital of Salta province in northern Argentina.

Police said clues at the scene suggested both were shot dead on July 26, apparently after being raped. The women may have been kidnapped and held for days before they were killed, they added, since they were last seen in their tourist hostel on July 16, where they left their belongings.

Ms Bouvier had a .22-calibre bullet wound to her head and Ms Houria had been shot in the back. Both had clothing pulled down or torn open.

Police detained a suspect whom local media identified as a man who rents horses for riding on the trail. The suspect, who was not identified, was questioned by investigative judge Martin Perez and released "for lack of evidence", the justice department said on its website.

On Sunday, Judge Perez revealed that one of the victims "had hair inside her closed fist, as if she had been fighting with someone".

Provincial security minister Pablo Kosiner said more arrests were possible because multiple people must have committed the crime.

Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman informed his French counterpart, Alain Juppe, about the arrest and said "all Argentina is concerned about this terrible crime".

Salta governor Juan Manuel Urtubey, meanwhile, has been meeting French ambassador Patrick Flot, who publicly thanked the governor for "keeping in constant contact so that those responsible can be identified".

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