French police burst into the apartment of a suspected al Qaeda-trained militant who killed seven people, prompting a shootout that ended with the death of the gunman, French authorities said yesterday.
Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, died from a gunshot wound to his head after a 30-hour standoff with police at his apartment in southern France and after confessing to killing three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant told reporters at the scene that Merah emerged from the bathroom firing repeatedly when police pushed a video probe into the room. “In the end, Mohamed Merah jumped from the window with his gun in his hand, continuing to fire. He was found dead on the ground.” Two police commandos were injured in the operation.
Earlier in the day, Merah had told negotiators he was trained by al-Qaeda in Pakistan and that he had killed three soldiers last week and four people at a Jewish school on Monday to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and because of French army involvement in Afghanistan.
The killings have raised questions about whether there were intelligence failures, what the attacks mean for social cohesion and race relations in France and how the aftermath will affect President Nicolas Sarkozy’s chances of re-election.