[Updated at 7:14 a.m. ET] The suspect in the killing of seven people in and around the southern French city of Toulouse is dead after a police siege of his apartment lasting more than 31 hours, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said Thursday.
Merah, 23, was wanted in the killings of three French paratroopers and of three students and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, in a string of shootings that began on March 11. Gueant said earlier police wanted to capture him alive.
"We hope that he is still alive," Gueant said overnight. "We have a priority to hand him over to the authorities."
But they had no contact overnight with Merah.
Police fired stun grenades at the building every hour through the night, but there was no response. They launched a raid amid gunfire around 11:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m. ET) and Gueant announced the suspect's death soon afterward.
As police first attempted to seize him early Wednesday morning, Merah shot and wounded two officers, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.
[Posted at 4:31 a.m. ET] French authorities have had no contact overnight with Mohammed Merah, who is suspected in seven recent killings and is holed up in an apartment in the southern French city of Toulouse.
"There were two gunshots in the night at 2 a.m. and we don't know what they correspond to," Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Fench Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday. "Since then we have not heard anything from him, our attempts to contact him have not yielded any results. He had said earlier in the night that he wanted to die with weapons in his hands."
Interior Minister Claude Gueant expressed his concern in an interview with RTL Radio.
"We hope that he is still alive," he said. "We have a priority to hand him over to the authorities."
Merah, 23, is wanted in the killings of three French paratroopers and of three students and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, in a string of shootings that began on March 11. He opened fire on police as they tried to break down his apartment door about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, wounding two officers, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.FULL STORY