UPDATE----March 22, 2012----Toulouse, France-------Mohammed Merah reportedly died while acting out a scene from a violent television or movie. He jumped through a window with guns blazing and died in the return fire from French forces who had been working for a full day to coax him out of his apartment building.
French Interior Minister Claude Guéant told reporters at the scene. "The volley of gunshots was frequent and very harsh. Mohamed Merah jumped out the window with a weapon in his hand while still shooting."
France's President Sarkozy explained that his desire was to take the suspect alive and learn as much about his operation as possible. Did he have accomplices? Did he truly have ties to Al Qaeda? Mr. Merah would not surrender. Sarkozy said that the investigation into the deaths of four at a nearby Jewish school and three French paratroopers would continue apace.
The man who killed four at the Jewish school in the town of Toulouse is said to be Mohammed Merah, 23 a Toulouse resident of Algerian descent. French forces have surrounded his apartment building since early Wednesday morning and are in the midst of a negotiation with him.
The latest live reports from the scene are that at least two French troops have been injured during the operation that began at 3:00 a.m. local time, in the Côte Paveé section of the city of Toulouse.
Interior Minister Claude Guéan who is on the scene told media that during the negotiation with Merah, he became explicit about the killings at the Jewish school:
"He said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children. What he wanted was to target the French army," said Mr. Guéant.
The real time reports being written by Euro journalists give conflicting reports about the man's ties to Al Qaeda, an arrest in Afghanistan for alleged bomb making activities and the motives for the killings of three soldiers, three school children and a teacher at a Jewish school.
One report, taken from a police source is that Merah was in Afghanistan two years ago for training. While there he is said to have fought Taliban forces.
French President Sarkozy arrived in Montauban, nearby Toulouse on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for three of the country's paratroopers, shot dead in two separate incidents in the past 10 days, by one man who is suspected to be Mohammed Merah.
The UK Telegraph reported that President Sarkozy told Toulouse religious leaders that Merah was ready to kill again and that it was to be today.
The investigation that led French authorities to Mohammed Merah revealed that he was arrested previously on what his lawyer described as "petty charges" and served some time in jail for a purse snatching incident.
Also uncovered during the investigation were emails between the first paratrooper killed and the suspect. The soldier identified as Imad Ibn-Ziatenwas was in the midst selling his own motor bike and it was for that purpose that Merah arrived where the soldier was gunned down.
More information was supplied by a local motor bike salesman who recognized Merah's bike from surveillance video shown to him. The suspect visited the dealership to inquire about having a GPS system installed, which got him suspicious. He is said to have informed local authorities about the verbal exchange at the time.
Meanwhile in Israel the bodies of those killed at the school in Toulouse were buried in Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem, as thousands gathered to mourn. Image: Wikimedia Commons