| 14.9°C Dublin

Toulouse Standoff: Shooter planned to kill again

Close

A neighbour looks at the scene during a raid on a house to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi on Monday at a Jewish school, in Toulouse March 21, 2012. About 300 police, some in bullet-proof body armour, cordoned off an area surrounding an apartment in a Toulouse neighbourhood in southwestern France, where the 24-year-old Muslim man was holed up. Shots were heard in the early hours of the morning, and police said three officers had been slightly wounded. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)

A neighbour looks at the scene during a raid on a house to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi on Monday at a Jewish school, in Toulouse March 21, 2012. About 300 police, some in bullet-proof body armour, cordoned off an area surrounding an apartment in a Toulouse neighbourhood in southwestern France, where the 24-year-old Muslim man was holed up. Shots were heard in the early hours of the morning, and police said three officers had been slightly wounded. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)

Toulouse victims Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons, Gabriel, 3 and Arye, 6, and Miriam Monsonego, 8

Toulouse victims Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons, Gabriel, 3 and Arye, 6, and Miriam Monsonego, 8

/

THE self-proclaimed al-Qaeda jihadist gunmen Mohammed Merah suspected of running a spate of killing in Toulouse was "getting ready to kill again this morning," according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Nicole Yardeni, regional Jewish community leader from the French Jewish association, CRIF, said she met Mr Sarkozy earlier today, who relayed the news.



Speaking to Europe 1 radio, she said: "He told me he had a plan to kill again. He had been planning to kill again this morning."



French police conducted a 3am raid on the building housing the French citizen of Algerian origin accused of France's worst school shooting on Monday and two previous attacks on French paratroopers.

It is understood Merah has told police he will hand himself in late this evening.



The standoff has continued for more than 12 hours after the gunman shot back wounding two police officers. Hundreds of men, including commandos from the elite RAID unit surrounded the four-story building fearing the gunmen might possess explosives and blow up the building should they try enter.



Police evacuated frightened residents of the building, helping them escape from the rooftop using fire truck ladders.



Claude Guéant, the French interior minister denied on Wednesday afternoon earlier media reports that the self-proclaimed 24 year-old al Qaeda supporter had been arrested.



"The negotiations continue. They are still under way," he said in a call to AFP after French TV aired claims the 23-year-old suspect in seven killings had been taken into custody by police special forces surrounding his flat.



Speaking to police negotiators he said his actions were done to seek revenge for Palestinian children and French military postings overseas. The Islamist is also believed to have told a journalist that he was motivated by France's ban on wearing the Burka. Ebba Kalondo, the deputy head of the channel's Africa service, says Merah wanted to "take revenge on the law against the full Islamic veil (in France) " Kalondo said.



As the standoff continued police ran sweeping searches of the homes of Merah's mother, brother and brother's companion. All the were detained for questioning. Police brought Merah's mother the scene of the siege, hoping she could talk her son to surrender but she refused, saying she had "little control" over her son.



It became increasingly apparent that the spate of terror attacks were a family affair when explosives were found Merah's brother's car.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required



Mr Gueant said the suspect's brother "is also engaged in the Salafi ideology," a reference to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.



Cedric Delage, regional secretary for a police union, said a key to tracking the suspect was the powerful Yamaha motorcycle that he has used in all three attacks - a dark gray one that had been stolen March 6. The frame was painted white, the color witnesses saw in the school attack. According to Delage, one of the suspect's brothers went to a motorcycle sales outfit to ask how to modify the GPS tracker, raising suspicions. The vendor then contacted police.



A lawyer who has previously represented Merah, described his former client as a "polite and courteous" man. But the French news sources suggested that the alleged gunman Mohammed Merah tried to enlist in the French Foreign Legion and the French army a few years ago but was rejected on the grounds of his psychological instability and criminal past. A broadcaster at Europe one reported that "between two trips to Afghanistan, Mohamed Merah, the alleged perpetrator of the massacre of the Jewish school in Toulouse and killing soldiers of Toulouse and Montauban, applied to enter the French army and the Foreign Legion, in 2008. He presented himself at both recruitment centers in Toulouse, the TIP of the Foreign Legion and CIRFA of the Army but was not selected because of his criminal record and his psychological instability."



The first French paratrooper killed was shot March 11 after posting an announcement online to sell his motorcycle and investigators believe the gunman responded and lured the paratrooper into an isolated place to kill him.



The schoolchildren killed, all of French-Israeli nationality, were buried in Israel on Wednesday as relatives sobbed inconsolably. The bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and 8-year-old Myriam Monsenego had been flown there in the day.



At the funeral ceremony in Jerusalem, Myriam's eldest brother, Avishai, in his 20s, wailed and called to God to give his parents the strength "to endure the worst trial that can be endured."



It was believed the suspect's apartment is on the ground floor in the building besieged in an operation transpiring to be one of France's largest manhunts. As police tried to continue negotiations Merah is reported to have told French reporters calmly, "Either I go to prison my head held high or to death with a smile."

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


Related Content









Most Watched





Privacy