French Shooter Dead: France

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Let It All Bleed Out
French killings suspect dies shooting at police

Toulouse, France (CNN) -- The French police siege to capture a suspected al Qaeda-trained militant came to a bloody end Thursday morning when commandos shot Mohammed Merah in the head as he fired wildly back at them, authorities said.

Merah emerged from a bathroom in his apartment and fired more than 30 shots at police as they burst in to end a standoff that had lasted more than 31 hours, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

He jumped out a window, still shooting, and was found dead on the ground, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

Two police officers were injured in the raid, Gueant said.

Merah had only two bullets left in his gun when he was killed, Molins said.

Merah, 23, was wanted in the killings of three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three children ages 4, 5, and 7. The shootings began March 11 and ended Monday with the slaying of the rabbi and the children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Authorities said the young man cited a variety of reasons for the killings, including France's ban on the wearing of Islamic veils, the missions of its troops abroad and the oppression of Palestinians.

Police found video recordings of the attacks, ammunition and ingredients for explosives after he was killed, Molins said.

In the video of the first shooting of a French soldier in Toulouse, Merah told the soldier, "You kill my brothers, I kill you," Molins told reporters. In another video showing how he gunned down two more French soldiers in Montauban, Merah is heard saying "Allahu Akbar," or God is great, Molins said.

Merah claimed to have posted the videos online, but police do not know when, where or how, Molins added.

Merah was wearing a bulletproof vest when police raided his apartment, the prosecutor said.

He originally said he would surrender to police, Gueant said, but later vowed that he would resist and kill anyone who tried to take him into custody.

Gueant had said earlier police wanted to capture him alive, saying the priority was "to hand him over to the authorities."

Merah said he wanted to "die with weapons in his hands," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said overnight.

After Merah's death, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said everything had been done to bring him to justice alive.

But, he said, security forces could not be exposed to more danger as they sought to arrest him, since enough lives had already been lost.

Sarkozy's political rival, Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, congratulated police and said France had always shown that it "knows how to stand up against its worst enemies without losing any of its values."

Campaigning for the French presidential elections, put on hold after the Toulouse school attack, has now resumed, with Sarkozy holding a rally in Strasbourg Thursday afternoon. The first round of voting is due next month.

Police tracked Merah down via his brother's computer IP address, which was apparently used to respond to an ad posted by the first victim, Gueant said.
In that first shooting, Imad Ibn Ziaten, a paratrooper of North African origin, arranged to meet a man in Toulouse who wanted to buy a scooter Ziaten had advertised online, the interior minister said. The victim said in the ad that he was in the military.

A message sent from the suspect's brother's IP address was used to set up the March 11 appointment, at which the paratrooper was killed, Gueant said.
Four days later, two other soldiers were shot dead and another injured by a black-clad man wearing a motorcycle helmet in a shopping center in the city of Montauban, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Toulouse.

In the attack at the private Jewish school Ozar Hatorah on Monday, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and driving a motor scooter pulled up and shot a teacher and three children -- two of them the teacher's young sons -- in the head.

The other victim, the daughter of the school's director, was killed in front of her father.

Police, who said the same guns were used in all three attacks, launched an intense manhunt and late Tuesday night zeroed in on the apartment, about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the Jewish school.


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