France: Toulouse terrorist dead after jumping out of window during police raid
An al-Qaeda-inspired gunman who killed seven people in France died on Thursday after jumping out of a window of his apartment, where he had been holed up for some 30 hours in a standoff with police, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, had been silent for hours but opened fire on special forces who stormed the building and was killed in the ensuing gunbattle.
“At the moment when a video probe was sent into the bathroom, the killer came out of the bathroom, firing with extreme violence,” Gueant told reporters at the scene, adding that Merah was firing several guns at once.
“In the end, Merah jumped from the window with his gun in his hand, continuing to fire. He was found dead on the ground,” he said..
French media reports said three police commandos were wounded in a shootout with the suspect, one in serious condition.
Earlier on Thursday Minister Claude Gueant said Merah wanted to “die with weapons in his hands.”
Suspicions had surfaced that the gunman, who had been holed up in an apartment in the southern city of Toulouse, may have already committed suicide. Gueant said Thursday morning that the suspect had not contacted negotiators since Wednesday night, adding “it’s rather strange that he never reacted” to the detonations overnight.
Authorities say Merah has boasted about carrying out the shootings of three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi, and three French paratroopers in three separate incidents over the last two weeks. They are believed to be the first incidents of killings inspired by Islamic radical motives in France in more than a decade.
Authorities said the shooter, a French citizen of Algerian descent, had been to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he claimed to have received training from al-Qaeda.