Report: Police, Toulouse Murderer Exchange Gunfire (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gavriel Queenann & Elad Benari 03/22/12)
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Despite earlier reports that Mohammad Merah, the gunman believed to
be behind a string of shootings including this week´s attack at the
Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse, it appears the standoff is not over
as of yet.
As of 4:00 a.m. (Israel time), reports from the building in which
Merah resides said that a shootout had broken out between French
security forces and Merah. It is not yet known whether Merah was hit.
Earlier, the Toulouse municipality reported that security forces had
managed to capture the terrorist after a siege which continued for
nearly 24 hours.
The raid on on Merah´s home began shortly before 1:00 a.m. (Israel
time) on Thursday, according to local media reports. Three explosions
had reportedly been heard in the area.
The BBC quoted Toulouse´s deputy mayor as having confirmed an assault
had begun on the home, but an unnamed source close to the operation
later told AFP that the explosions were part of pressure by police on
Merah to surrender.
"He said he wanted to give himself up. He changed his mind, so we´re
stepping up on the pressure on him to surrender," the source told
AFP. There were no sounds suggesting an exchange of fire following
the blasts, AFP reporters on the ground said.
Earlier, the 24-year-old gunman discussed with police negotiators the
killing of three Jewish school children, a rabbi and three
paratroopers in a string of shootings that began on March 11.
The raid followed hours of intensive negotiation, tactical planning
and a predawn raid by police on Wednesday at a home in Toulouse, just
one kilometer from Otzar HaTorah.
Hundreds of police surrounded a five-story building where Merah was
holed up while emergency personnel evacuated the building using fire-
Earlier, three officers were wounded in an exchange of fire as police
tried to coax the suspect out of the building. The suspect had tossed
a handgun out of a window, but reportedly had other arms including an
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant maintained police wanted to
take the man alive throughout the standoff. Gueant told reporters
that the young man is a French man who identifies with al Qaeda
The suspect "wants to take revenge for Palestinian children" killed
in the Middle East and "has various grievances with the French
military," he said.
Prior to the raid, Gueant said that Merah had originally planned to
attack more military targets, but when he could not find any on
Monday, he turned instead to the Jewish school in Toulouse.
In an interview with a French television station Gueant said that
Merah “wanted to kill another soldier, but did not find anyone, so he
turned to the Jewish school and killed the teacher and three
French prosecutors said Merah, a French citizen of Algerian
extraction, said he had no regrets other than having run out of time
for more killings.
He has no regrets, except not having more time to kill more people
and he boasts that he has brought France to its knees," Paris
Prosecutor Francois Molins, part of the anti-terrorist unit leading
the investigation, told reporters in Toulouse.
"He has explained that he is not suicidal, that he does not have the
soul of a martyr and that he prefers to kill but to stay alive
himself," Paris Prosecutor Francious Molins, a member of the task
force set up after Monday´s murders at Otzar HaTorah, said.
Merah, who filmed his killings with a small camera for posterity, had
already identified another soldier and two police officers he wanted
to kill, Molins said.
The suspect, who officials say has spent time in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, has reportedly referred to himself as a "mujahedeen," or
Over the last few days, France has maintained a high level terror
alert in the southwest region as police mounted a massive manhunt for
what they described as a "potential serial killer."
The first attack came on March 11 when a French paratrooper was
killed in Toulouse. Two other paratroopers were killed and one
injured last Thursday in the nearby town of Montauban.
It was reported all three murdered paratroopers were of Arab descent,
and had been killed with the same weapon.
That incident was followed by the murders of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler,
his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and 8-year-old Myriam Monsenego at
Otzar HaTorah in Toulouse.
In the paratrooper shootings, the suspect drove a motorcycle and
wielded a Colt 45 firearm. Contrary to initial reports, a different
weapon was used in the Jewish school shooting.
As the Toulouse raid unfolded, the bodies of the four Jewish school
shooting victims arrived in Israel for burial. (IsraelNationalNews ©
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