Thursday, March 22, 2012

Toulouse shooting suspect is killed in police raid

REUTERS03/22/2012 13:06
French police at scene of Toulouse standoff 
French interior minister says Jewish school shooting suspect Mohamed Merah wounded several French police officers as police entered apartment, end siege that lasted over 30 hours.

Toulouse Jewish school shooting suspect Mohamed Merah was killed in a police raid on an apartment he had barricaded himself in for over 30 hours, the French interior minister said Thursday afternoon. (Merah, photo)

What appeared to be heavy gunfire was heard at the scene as police entered the apartment. Police were also said to be firing gas into the apartment.

An hour earlier, three loud explosions were heard at the scene, which were believed to be stun grenades thrown by police.
Police had lost contact with the 24-year-old gunman suspected of killing seven people in the name of al-Qaida and there has been no sign of life from his apartment in southwestern France for 10 hours, a minister said earlier in the morning.
More than a day after 300 police first surrounded the five-story building in a suburb of the city of Toulouse, Merah, who has confessed to killing three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi, had yet to give himself up.
Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, boasted to police negotiators on Wednesday night that he had brought France to its knees and said his only regret was not having been able to carry out plans for more killings.
He had told negotiators that he killed the seven to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and because of French army involvement in Afghanistan. He filmed the shootings of the children and the rabbi on Monday using a camera strapped to him.
Merah, who authorities say has a weapons cache in the apartment including an Uzi and a Kalashnikov assault rifle, wounded two officers on Wednesday.
"What we want is to capture him alive, so that we can bring him to justice, know his motivations and hopefully find out who were his accomplices, if there were any," Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told TF1 television on Wednesday.
Merah, who told police negotiators he had accepted a mission from al-Qaida after receiving training in the lawless border area of Pakistan, had identified another soldier and two police officers he wanted to kill, investigators said on Wednesday.
"He has no regrets, except not having more time to kill more people and he boasts that he has brought France to its knees," Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins, part of the anti-terrorist unit leading the investigation, told a news conference .
The gunman negotiated with police all Wednesday, promising to give himself up and saying that he did not want to die.
"He's explained that he's not suicidal, he doesn't have the soul of a martyr and he prefers to kill but to stay alive himself," the prosecutor said.
At a ceremony in an army barracks in Montauban, near Toulouse, Sarkozy paid tribute to the three soldiers of North African origin killed last week.
"This man wanted to bring the Republic to its knees. The Republic did not give in, the Republic did not back down," he said, standing before three coffins draped in the French flag.
Vowing justice, he said the men had been killed in a "terrorist execution." Merah had staked out the first soldier he killed after replying to an advert about a scooter, investigators said.



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