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French Muslim killed in battle with French police

Publication time: 22 March 2012, 13:49
French media reported that a 23-year-old French Muslim Mohammed Merah who took responsibility for killing of some French soldiers and civilians killed in a fierce battle with French police in the French city of Toulouse on Thursday when police stormed his apartment.

French police cordoned off the street where Mr. Merah lived.

Sustained heavy gunfire was heard shortly after 11 a.m. local time. News reports said that police had moved slowly through the apartment before gunfire erupted, as Mr. Merah resisted. Agence France-Presse reported that three police officers were wounded in the assault.

Mohammed Merah, a former garage mechanic of Algerian descent who had made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that he had been trained by Al Qaeda.

Claude Guéant, the French interior minister, said in an interview earlier with RTL radio, the Muslim wanted to die in battle with the police with weapons in his hands.

Mr. Merah barricaded himself in the apartment building in the quiet neighborhood of Côte Pavée on Wednesday and the standoff continued for more than 30 hours. A series of explosions and gunshots which began before midnight continued into the early hours of Thursday, when French news media reported that security forces were attempting to destroy a window at the suspect's apartment, deprive him of sleep and let in the night cold in the hope that Mr. Merah might surrender peacefully.  

In the first six hours of the standoff, which began before dawn on Wednesday, Mr. Merah fired several heavy volleys at police trying to enter his apartment, wounding two, though neither seriously. At one point he tossed a .45-caliber pistol from the window, the same kind used in each of the three attacks, and was given some kind of "means of communication," according to the authorities, presumably a cellphone or walkie-talkie.

"He expressed no regrets, saving only that he did not have the time to reach more victims," François Molins, the Paris prosecutor responsible for overseeing "anti-terror investigations" in France, said, adding that Mr. Merah said he had planned to kill a soldier on Wednesday morning, and at some point to kill two police officers here.

A top editor at the news channel France 24 said in a televised interview that she had spoken by telephone to a man who said to be the execution shooter in the hours before the police surrounded Mr. Merah's building. "He was calm, was speaking in very good French and punctuated by Arabic expressions," said the editor, Ebba Kalondo. She also said he spoke of planning more attacks and of intending to post video of his executions online.

"The man wanted to bring France to its knees", president Sarkozy of France lamented on Wednesday. He spoke in nearby Montauban at a funeral service for three soldiers that Mr. Merah killed in the days leading up to Monday's execution of a jew rabbi and three jew students at a jewish religious school as in revenge for French invaders' killings of Muslim children in Afghanistan and jew invaders' killing of Muslim children in Palestine. 

Source: The New York Times

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