The al-Qaeda fanatic who murdered seven people in south west France died in a vicious gunfire battle after police stormed his apartment following a 32-hour siege. The Toulouse terrorist burst out of his flat's bathroom 'shooting insanely' at officers, before leaping to his death from a window.
Job well done: French police leave the scene of the gun battle after they
Mohammed Merah's house. Merah came out shooting madly and
injured two officers. Officials said they never seen this kind of violence.
All guns blazing
In scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood film, Mohammed Merah (23), unleashed round after round from automatic weapons after gas cannisters were thrown into his apartment and police stormed in.Two officers were injured, including one who is still in a serious condition.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant said, "We sent in special cameras to be able to see where he was but we could not find him. It was when we were able to locate him in the bathroom that he came out shooting madly at everybody."
"Merah jumped out of the window and continued to shoot. He was found dead on the ground," added Gueant.
Merah, who admits murdering seven people in the past week, had been holed up in his flat in the city of Toulouse with a variety of weapons since Wednesday. Police decided to move in after negotiations broke down and he threatened to start killing officers. Yesterday morning police turned powerful spotlights on Merah's building to try and blind him and keep him from seeing the operation closing in around him. He had said he wanted to 'die with weapons in his hands'.
Police also confirmed that, during the hours of negotiating, Merah had admitted to killing a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers in three separate motorcycle shooting attacks.
They are believed to be the first killings inspired by Islamic radical motives in France in more than a decade.
Authorities said Merah was a radical Islamist and had been to Afghanistan and the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, where he claimed to have received training from al-Qaeda.
Police said Merah told negotiators he admitted to the killlings to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest the French army's involvement in Afghanistan, as well as a government ban last year on face-covering Islamic veils. Even before Merah's death, the lawyer who had defended him for years on a series of criminal charges predicted a dramatic end to the siege.
"He wants to show he is exceptional, omnipotent, and this approach can only end up as something tragic," Christian Etelin said. He said Merah had tried to join the military but was rejected. He said Merah was also disillusioned after a string of convictions for petty crimes and after efforts to reduce his sentences through work programs failed.
Sarkozy's crackdown on Internet hate sites
Following Merah's death, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said anyone who regularly visits 'websites which support terrorism or call for hate or violence will be punished by the law.' And he promised a crackdown on anyone who goes abroad 'for purposes of indoctrination in terrorist ideology'.
Merah vowed to 'bring France to its knees'
Mohammed Merah proclaimed he would "bring France to its knees" before dying. A known criminal who escaped from prison in Afghanistan while serving a sentence for carrying bomb-making equipment. Merah described himself as an Islamist warrior and member of the al-Qaeda network.