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Killing Spree Suspect Dies After Standoff

March 22, 2012 by staff 

Killing Spree Suspect Dies After Standoff, An Islamic extremist who boasted of killing seven people to strike back at France died Thursday after jumping from his window, gun in hand, in a fierce shootout with police, a French minister said.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the suspect, who claimed links to al-Qaida, jumped out after police entered the apartment Thursday and found him holed up in the bathroom.

The death of Mohamed Merah, 23, ended a more than 32-hour standoff with an elite police squad trying to capture him alive. Merah was wanted in the deaths of seven people, three paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi, all killed over 10 days. Another student and another paratrooper were wounded in his attacks.

Police said, during hours of negotiations Wednesday when the standoff first began, Merah admitted to being proud of the seven slayings he carried out in three motorcycle shooting attacks around the southwestern city of Toulouse. They are believed to be the first killings inspired by Islamic radical motives in France in more than a decade.

Authorities said Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, espoused a radical form of Islam and had been to Afghanistan and the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, where he claimed to have received training from al-Qaida.

Elite police squads set off sporadic blasts throughout the night and into the morning — some blew off the apartment’s shutters — in what officials described as a tactic aimed to pressure Merah to give up. A new set of detonations, known as flash bangs, resounded at 10:30 a.m. (0930 GMT), portending the end to the standoff.

“The killer came out of the bathroom, firing with extreme violence,” Gueant said, adding that the RAID squad had “never seen an assault like it.”

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