A self proclaimed Al Qaeda militant has died in a hail of bullets as he jumped from an apartment window to end a 32-hour siege in Southern France. The 23-year-old gunman who has been suspected of killing seven people in France in the name of Al Qaeda, tried to blast his way out of a siege in the city of Toulouse after members of an elite forced known as RAID entered his flat.
Leaping to his death
Mohammed Merah burst out of his bathroom, unreleased round of round of bullets from his automatic weapons before leaping to his death via the window. Two officers were injured in the shoot off, one of whom is still in a serious condition.
Interior minister Claude Gueant said that they had sent in special cameras which would be able to see where Merah was but they could not find him, until he came out of the bathroom shooting.
He went on to say that they had never seen anything like the violence he witnessed that day and even the RAID police had to protect themselves. He continued fire as he leapt out the window until he was found dead on the ground.
The exact cause of death was not immediate clear, Merah had been holed up since Tuesday night after being tracked down as the main suspect for the shootings that killed seven, including three Jewish children.
Gueant comments that the police had lost contact with the 23-year-old thinking he may have commited suicide but remember that he has told the authorities that he wanted “to die with weapons in hand”.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy had congratulated all those involved within the operation, and went on to say that his thoughts were with those wounded and killed by the suspected killer.
Prosecutors say Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent was said to be trained by the al-Qaeda of the Afghanistan- Pakistan border. He was also quoted as saying that he “expressed no regret apart from not having enough time to kill more victims”.
Questions are now being asked as to why the Al Qaeda fanatic was allowed to roam around free if he had been on a French security service ‘watch-list’ since 2007. Since the first series of attacks Merah was placed on the possible list of suspects alongside his older brother Abdelkader. But little was done to try and trace him. His brother is now under arrest, suspected of helping or even masterminding the attacks.
French debt has increased to a twenty year high, even though the nation has a relatively stable economic growth pattern. The countries political culture and the result of this year’s presidential elections look to be damaging regardless of who comes out on top.