Toulouse Gunman Is Dead

hcsp.jpgPolice sources told French media Thursday morning that a gunman who boasted of bringing France “to its knees” with an al Qaeda-linked terror spree that killed seven people was dead after a police raid on the apartment he had holed himself up in for more than 24 hours. 

French policemen stand as members of the RAID special police forces unit are still laying siege to the apartment block where Mohamed Merah, the man suspected of a series of deadly shootings, was holed up, on March 22, 2012 in Toulouse, southwestern France. (Getty)

Riot police set a series of three large explosions outside the apartment building, and then gunfire was heard and there were reports that gas was fired into the apartment to try and subdue the suspect. Then came the reports that he was dead.
There was no immediate confirmation of his death, or any indication as to what might have caused him to die. France24 television reported that three police were injured in the final raid, one of them seriously.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said earlier in the morning, before the explosions and gunfire, that it was “unclear” whether the suspect was still alive. He had not contacted negotiators since Wednesday night, raising suspicions that he may have committed suicide.
“We hope that he is still alive,” Gueant said, stressing that authorities’ priority is to capture him alive. He said the gunman earlier told negotiators that he wanted to “die with weapons in his hands.”
Hundreds of heavily armed police, some in body armor, surrounded the five-story building in Toulouse where Merah had been holed up since the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.
As midnight approached, three explosions were heard and orange flashes lit up the night sky near the building. An Interior Ministry official said the suspect had gone back on a previous pledge to turn himself in — and that police blew up the shutters outside the apartment window to pressure him to surrender.
Sporadic blasts and bursts of gunfire rang out throughout the night, though officials insisted no full-out assault was under way. “It’s not as simple as that. We are waiting,” the Toulouse prosecutor, Michel Valet, told The Associated Press.
Authorities said the shooter, a French citizen of Algerian descent, had been to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he claimed to have received training from al Qaeda.
Source: CBS News