The gunman suspected of killing seven people in southwest France in the last two weeks is dead.
Police say Mohamed Merah, 23, was killed by a single bullet to the head as he tried to jump from a window, firing on commandos who had stormed the apartment block in Toulouse where he had been holed up for more than 30 hours.
During that time, he told police he had killed three Jewish children, three soldiers and a Rabbi to avenge Palestinian children and protest at French involvement in Afghanistan.
After failing to persuade Merah to surrender, an assault was finally launched late this morning.
Interior Minister Claude Guéant described how commandos – having heard nothing from Merah for several hours – entered the flat, using video equipment to check each room. At that point they did not even know whether Merah was still alive.
As they approached the bathroom, said Guéant, Merah came out firing heavily. There was sustained gunfire said the minister, adding that an experienced commando said he had never seen such a ferocious assault.
“The special forces tried to protect themselves and fired back,” he continued. “In the end Mohamed Merah tried to jump from a window, with a gun still in his hand, still firing at officers.”
Prosecutors say Merah had amassed equipment for making Molotov cocktails and fired 30 bullets during the shootout. They have described the killing of the gunman as “legitimate self defence”.