Crazy French killer goes down, all guns blazing

23-yr-old gunman scrambles from ground floor window as he shoots at commandos in fierce battle
Posted On Friday, March 23, 2012 at 02:15:03 AM
Members of the special police forces unit leave after the assault on the flat of self-professed al-Qaeda militant Mohamed Merah
Toulouse: A 23-year-old gunman who said al-Qaeda inspired him to kill seven people in France died in a hail of bullets on Thursday as he scrambled out of a ground-floor window during a gunbattle with police commandos.

Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, died from gunshot wounds at the end of a 30-hour standoff with police at his apartment and after confessing to killing three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi.

He was firing at police as he jumped out of the window, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said near the building in Toulouse. Two police commandos were injured in the operation — a dramatic climax to a siege which riveted the world.
Gunman who shot children: A TV grab of 23-year-old Mohamed Merah
“When a video probe was sent into the bathroom, the killer came out, firing with extreme violence,” Gueant said, adding that he 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,” Gueant told reporters.

Sustained bursts of gunfire had been heard outside the apartment shortly after police, moving “rapidly” to end the siege, progressed “step by step” through the apartment in fear of booby traps.  A total of around 300 shots were fired.

Three loud explosions near the apartment were also heard shortly before police said the officers had moved in, and an ambulance was then seen passing through a security cordon.

“RAID officers of course tried to protect themselves, to return fire, and then in the end, Merah jumped out of the window with a gun in his hand,” Gueant said. Merah had been holed up since Tuesday night after being tracked down by police.

France's chief anti-terror prosecutor, Francois Molins, said Merah had claimed responsibility for three shootings over the previous 10 days in which three French paratroopers, three Jewish children and a teacher were killed in cold blood, shocking the nation.

The deadly shooting» Mar 11: A paratrooper is shot dead in Toulouse by a man who escapes on a scooter.

» Mar 15: Two soldiers are shot dead by a man on a scooter. A third soldier is seriously injured

» Mar 19: A man on a scooter shoots dead three kids and an adult at a Jewish school. Police said the same weapon was used in all three attacks

» Mar 20: Bodies of school victims are flown to Israel for burial.

» Mar 21: Police identify Mohamed Merah as the killer and surround his Toulouse apartment. Police find the scooter and weapons in Merah's car. His mother, two sisters and two brothers are detained

» Mar 22: The siege continues. Around midday, police storm the apartment and heavy firing breaks out. Merah opens fire on police and eventually jumps out the window