The suspect in the attacks was described as a 23-year-old Frenchman from Toulouse of Algerian descent. France’s BFM TV named the suspect as Mohammed Merah. He has reportedly trained in jihadi camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and allegedly has proclaimed ties to al-Qaida. Police have already arrested the man’s brother, whose computer IP address was reportedly used to answer an ad for a motorbike for sale by one of three French soldiers shot last week.A youngster cries against a hearse following a ceremony at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse March 20, …
The suspect’s mother has been brought to the scene to try to assist police in persuading her son to surrender. France’s Interior Minister Claude Guéant also arrived on the scene, outside a residential building in the northern Toulouse neighborhood of Croix-Daurade.
“Two French police officers were injured in a shootout during a raid on a house in Toulouse on Wednesday to arrest suspects in the killings,”MSNBC reported. The raid was still ongoing at a house in the north of the city.
French news channel BFM TV reported that Merah “was linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist group banned last month in France,” the BBC reported. “From a family of five children, the suspect is a mechanic by trade, according to Le Point.”
A man claiming to be the gunman called French broadcaster France 24 Wednesday saying he had filmed the killings and would post them online, the broadcaster said.
The same .45 caliber gun has reportedly been used in three separate shooting incidents over the past nine days, resulting in seven deaths in the Toulouse area. Those killed include four people at the Jewish school this week, as well as three French troops of North African and Caribbean descent, who were killed in two separate incidents last week. The victims were shot in the head by a gunman riding a black Yamaha scooter, reports said.
The chief suspect is said to have cited the death of Palestinian children as the reason for the attacks, and to have targeted the French troops of North African descent (like himself) because he considered them traitors. A prison official in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Gulam Farooq, told the BBC that Merah was arrested in Afghanistan in 2007, “but escaped in a Taliban-led break-out in 2008.” French police allegedly tracked him based on recent emails inquiring about the sale of the motorbike.
Killed in the attacks on Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse Monday were Jonathan Sandler, a rabbi and teacher at the school, his two sons, Gabriel and Arieh, ages 3 and 6, and Miriam Monsonego, the 7-year-old daughter of the school principal. A fifth person, a 17-year-old boy, was also wounded in the attack.
Those killed at the Toulouse Jewish school, who had dual French-Israeli nationality, were buried in Israel Wednesday. Their bodies were flown to Israel from France Wednesday, accompanied by their relatives and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
The French embassy in Washington will give those who wish to sign a book of condolences over the Toulouse tragedy an opportunity to do so on Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A convoy carried coffins from the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France March 20, 2012. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty …
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