Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah killed in shootout


French officials said today that the gunman suspected of killing seven people in southern France died after being shot in the head by a police sniper following a 32-hour siege.

Five policemen were also injured during the five-minute shoot-out at a house in the French city of Toulouse. One suffered a wound to the foot and the others had minor injuries.

Officials also confirmed that Mohamed Merah had filmed all three of his attacks, during which he is thought to have killed seven people including three children.

Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, told AP earlier that the suspect had jumped from a window after police had found him hiding in a bathroom after entering the building this morning. Merah had leapt from window still firing.

Gueant said that when the suspect was found he began 'shooting very violently' in 'frequent and hard' bursts of gunfire.

Police reported that yesterday, after the siege began, Merah admitted to being proud of his killings, which allegedly include a rabbi, three Jewish children and the three French soldiers.

Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, claimed he was acting to “avenge Palestinian children” and protest against military intervention overseas.

The murders were carried out in three separate attacks.

The elite police squad (RAID) blew off the apartment's shutters with sporadic blasts during the night and early morning in a tactical attempt to get Merah to surrender.

Further loud detonations were used this morning at around 10.30am local time.

The self-confessed al-Qa'ida militant had told the police that he would surrender in the afternoon, he then extended his pledge to after dark, before reneging on the earlier statements altogether.

Police said that Merah had admitted to killing the rabbi and three young children at a Jewish school, as well as three French paratroopers.

In the run up to the end of the siege a lawyer who had previously defended Merah said he expected the siege would end dramatically.

“He wants to show he is exceptional, omnipotent, and this approach can only end up as something tragic,” Christian Etelin told AP.

Merah had claimed he had been to Afghanistan and had received al-Qa'ida training in Pakistan.

French anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said this afternoon that Merah was killed by a gun shot to the head from a police sniper, as he attempted to escape.

More details emerged regarding Merah this afternoon as Francois Molins told reporters that the gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest, and shot at the specialist police entering his hide-out around 30 times.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said that “everything was done to try to arrest him alive.”

Officials confirmed that the killer used a variety of weapons during the fire fight.

French officials also confirmed that Merah had filmed all filmed all three attacks.

Responding to the shootings Nicolas Sarkozy, returning to the campaign trail in the French elections, said this evening

"The values of France have been attacked. But these are not the crimes of a mad man because a mad man cannot be held responsible. These are the crimes of a monster and a fanatic."

Timeline of the killings.

11 March

French soldier Imad Ibn-Ziaten is killed after being lured to a meeting after advertising that his scooter was for sale.

15 March

Soldiers Abel Chennouf  and Mohamed Legouade are killed as they wait by a cash machine. A third soldier is injured.

19 March

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons Gabriel and Arieh, and seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego are shot dead at close range.

21 March

Email address used by the killer is traced to an apartment block in Toulouse. The siege begins.

22 March

Merah jumps from a window and is found dead on the ground.

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