A gunman besieged in a flat in Toulouse in southern France has claimed that he was the one who killed three soldiers and carried out a murderous attack on a Jewish school in the city over the past ten days.
Twenty-three year old Mohamed Merah also told police negotiators that he had planned more killings before he was tracked down.
Three hundred officers have cordoned off a residential area in Toulouse where Merah is holed-up in an apartment block.
People living nearby have been moved away.
Police say they found a car parked outside the flat loaded with armaments. Police sources also said materials to make explosives were discovered in his brother’s car. He has been arrested.
The killing spree began on March 11 when a soldier was shot dead in Toulouse. Days later, two more were killed in Montauban.
On Monday, the gunman targeted a Jewish school, killing a rabbi, his two children and a seven year old girl.
The Paris prosecutor François Molins said: “(Merah) had planned to commit another act, this very morning, targeting a soldier which – if what he says is true – would have happened after he left home this morning, and which would have involved killing a soldier who he had identified.
He also indicated that he had other criminal plans, and that he planned to kill two specifically identified police officers, both on duty in the Toulouse area.
He expresses no regret, other than not having had the time to bring about more victims, and he even prides himself on having brought France to its knees.”
An elite squad moved in to the block of flats just after three in the morning. There was an exchange of gunfire and a number of officers were wounded.
Merah threw out a Colt 45 handgun – the same type that was used in the killings – in exchange for a mobile phone.
Security services had already put him under surveillance for suspected links with al-Qaeda. The French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said Merah – a French national of Algerian descent – had been radicalised on trips he made to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Negotiators say he is not suicidal.