The gunman at the centre of a huge police siege in the French city of Toulouse has been killed after special forces raided his apartment.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant gave details of the assault at midday local time, some 32 hours after police began to surround the property.
Gueant said the decision was taken to arrest Mohammed Merah at 10:30 CET on Thursday morning. Armed officers, having thrown a smoke grenade into the apartment, began moving from room to room in search of their target. When they tried to enter the bathroom, Merah ran out firing aggressively. It had earlier been reported that he was in possession of an Uzi automatic machine gun and a Kalashnikov.
Three officers are said to have been seriously wounded in the raid. Merah killed himself by jumping out of a window. He was found dead on the ground.
Merah was suspected of seven fatal shootings in recent days. The victims were three French soldiers, and four people including three children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse. Merah had reportedly admitted to the killings, saying he carried them out in revenge for the deaths of Palestinian children in Gaza, as well as for French military interventions in Afghanistan. According to officials, he said he had wanted to bring France “to its knees.”
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Police laid siege to his apartment at around 03:00 on Wednesday morning. Initially officials told the press Merah had said he would give himself up on Wednesday evening, but this did not turn out to be the case.
Several explosions rocked the area near the apartment on Wednesday night, as specialist officers began trying to “intimidate” their target in the hope that he would surrender. They had initially been reluctant to storm the building, believing the heavily armed man could detonate a bomb.
Then, in mid-morning, intense bouts of gunfire and explosions could be heard coming from the area of the apartment, indicating an assault to bring the siege to an end was finally underway.