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Toulouse Gunman Shot Dead French Interior Minister

RIA Novosti

15:56 22/03/2012 PARIS, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - The suspected Toulouse gunman, Mohammed Merah, who claimed responsibility for killing seven people in a wave of shootings, was killed on Thursday when police stormed the apartment where he was holed up, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

“The murderer emerged from the bathroom (during the storm), firing his gun. Merah jumped out of the window with the gun in his hands…He was found lying dead on the ground,” Gueant told journalists.

Merah’s death was the culmination of a siege of his apartment that lasted almost 30 hours. The gunman, a French citizen of Algerian descent, pledged to surrender late on Wednesday. Police however lost contact with him 10 hours ago.

Gueant earlier said that the gunman, who was reported to have links with al Qaeda’s jihadist wing, wanted to “die with weapons in his hands.”

Merah also said during the negotiations that he had brought France to its knees and regretted losing the chance to carry out more killings.

The gunman was suspected of shooting dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday, and also shooting three soldiers of North African descent in Montauban last week. He is also suspected of shooting two off-duty soldiers in Toulouse in an earlier incident.

French Foreign Minister Allan Juppe called on Thursday for a probe into whether the Toulouse killing spree was the result of possible mistakes by the French special services.

“As far as I understand, we can make an inquiry to reveal whether a mistake by special services took place or not,” the minister was quoted as saying by France’s Europe1 radio station. “We need to clarify the situation.”

Gueant said on Wednesday French special services had been following Merah for several years since his trip to Afghanistan. During the trip, the suspect is said to have received paramilitary training in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan.



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