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Homeland Security

French Police Reject Criticism of Toulouse Operation

RIA Novosti

18:11 23/03/2012 PARIS, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - A French police trade union on Friday dismissed criticism of the special operation to neutralize the Toulouse gunman, Mohammed Merah, who claimed responsibility for killing seven people in a wave of shootings.

Merah was killed on Thursday when police stormed the apartment where he was holed up.

Christian Prouteau, the founder of the GIGN, an elite French police unit that was not involved in the Toulouse operation, questioned the way it was carried out.

He asked why police had not used tear gas and expressed surprise that they had failed to capture him alive.

The police trade union Synergie (second syndicat d'officiers) dismissed Prouteau’s comments as politicized and irrelevant.

“Synergie is outraged by Christian Prouteau’s controversial remarks over Operation Raid,” the union said in a communiqué published on its website.

“This former police chief quickly forgot the mistakes of some units of the service he is defending.”

The communiqué recalls in particular that in 1995 Khaled Kelkal, the organizer of a series of terrorist attacks in France, was killed by gendarmes near Lyons.

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.

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.

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