Toulouse drama: LIVE UPDATES

French policemen and firefighters stand near the Belle Paule residence where French policemen, members of the RAID special forces unit, attempt to arrest a suspected Al-Qaeda gunman on March 21, 2012 in Toulouse, southwestern France (AFP Photo / Remy Gabalda)
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Mohamed Merah’s page on Facebook has been removed due to an order from the French Interior Ministry.


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Mohammed Merah had been on the US no-fly list for some time, one reason being that he had attended an Al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan – WSJ, quoting an intelligence official.


GMT 1414: Mohamed Merah was wearing a bullet-proof jacket and had fired 30 bullets at the police commandos when they broke in – prosecutor Francois Molins

GMT 1403: Mohamed Merah was killed by a bullet to the head from police sniper as he tried to flee – prosecutor.

GMT 1311: Latest reports suggest two police officers have been injured in the raid, while previously there was information that three police commanders sustained wounds.

GMT 1249: "Our prisons should not become breeding grounds for indoctrination," Sarkozy said, adding that he has ordered an inquiry to determine whether radical Islamist ideologies are being propagated in France's prisons.

GMT 1240: "The French people must overcome their outrage and not give vent to their anger. Our fellow Muslim citizens have nothing to do with this crazy murderous act of terrorism"  – Sarkozy

GMT 1239: Sarkozy says France will "implacably defend its values," and those traveling abroad who are "indoctrinated" by terror groups will be punished. 

GMT 1234: “Investigation underway into whether or not shooting spree suspect had accomplices,” says the president.

GMT 1231: “We will punish people who visit websites that defend terrorist acts”  – Sarkozy.

GMT 1230: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned against any retribution against the country's Muslim community.

GMT 1158: Three French officers injured in Toulouse gunfight did not suffer life-threatening injuries – French Interior minister

GMT 1147: President Nicolas Sarkozy praised police and security services for bringing the siege to an end.

GMT 1109: The gunman had jumped out of the bathroom window still shooting as police broke through, and was found dead where he fell. Three police commandos were wounded in the raid on the suspect's flat, one of them seriously – French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

GMT 1107: Mohamed Merah was killed by jump from flat's window, gun in hand, as he continued firing at police – French Int Minister

GMT 1054: Apparently more than 300 rounds were fired during the five-minute gun battle – The Telegraph correspondent

GMT1056:  Merah died in the bathroom of his apartment, where he had taken refuge, according to police sources – French media

GMT 1049: Police have now officially confirmed the death of suspect Mohamed Merah, the man behind the murders of three soldiers and three pupils and a teacher at a Jewish school

GMT 1044: French media reports three police officers injured, one seriously, in Toulouse siege  

GMT 1040: French shooting suspect Mohammed Merah is dead – police sources via AFP

GMT 1038: Police are using gas in attempt to paralyze gunman – Reuters quotes  police official

GMT 1036: Merah "is resisting police" – AFP, quoting police sources.

GMT 1027: Heavy gun fire heard near the surrounded building

GMT 1013:Sources confirm to AFP that police are inside the gunman's apartment in Toulouse

GMT 1007:Police sources say siege in Toulouse is 'coming to an end' – AFP

GMT 1005:Three recent explosions were much louder than those during the night – Reuters

GMT 0958:Reports of police forces entering the suspected Toulouse gunman's home – Al Arabiya

GMT 0953: Series of blasts at Toulouse seige scene were from flash grenades'fired to check for signs of life in the ground floor flat'– Reuters quoting police source

GMT 0950: Series of flash grenade blasts at the scene of Toulouse gunman siege – WATCH LIVE

GMT 0948: An ambulance was then seen passing through a security cordon immediately after the three blasts were heard – AFP

GMT 0941: Three loud explosions have been heard at the scene of the siege in Toulouse, apparently outside the apartment where Merah is holed up

­GMT 0830: French Interior Minister has defended French agencies against criticism that they failed to pick up Merah – The Telegraph

­GMT 0818: French Interior Minister Claude Gerant along with Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.have arrived outside the building where the Toulouse shooter is holed up – AFP

­GMT0805: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says "clarity" is needed on possible shortcomings in the surveillance of Mohammed Merah by the security services, who had questioned him only recently – AFP

­GMT 0800: French shooter has been styled a “Nike terrorist”. In the intelligence world, the term Nike terrorist is slang for someone whose motto when it comes to committing acts of terrorism is simply "Just do it". – The Telegraph

­GMT 0744: – New information has emerged on the Toulouse shooter – Merah was a serial petty criminal, rejected twice from the French army, who had traveled to Afghanistan to be trained as a jihadist. He had been monitored by French intelligence after being rendered back to France from the war zone. – The Telegraph

GMT 0734: French Interior Minister Claude Gueant noted it was "quite strange that [Merah] did not react" when police exploded a series of charges overnight to get his attention – The Telegraph

GMT 0730: French Interior Minister Claude Gueant says police have had no contact with Mohammed Merah overnight – AFP

GMT 0726:Mohamed Merah no longer seems to want to surrender, "he seems very determined" – AFP

GMT 0707: French authorities are now questioning whether Mohammed Merah is still alive – The Telegraph

­GMT 0704: French interior minister says gunman wants to die with “weapons in hand” and it is not certain if the suspect is still alive – Agence France Presse

­GMT 0630: The first opinion poll since Monday’s shooting at the Toulouse Jewish school shows President Nicolas Sarkozy would narrowly beat his Socialist challenger in the first round of a presidential election next month – Reuters

­GMT 0552: Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday morning that French authorities were handling the situation properly outside the apartment of alleged Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah – The Jerusalem Post.

­GMT 05.50: Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, has confirmed the explosions are designed to intimidate the gunman into surrendering. He said police were continuing the blasts at hourly intervals to exhaust the suspect and make him easier to capture unharmed – The Telegraph.

GMT 05.45: Explosions continue to be heard around the building. The blasts have so far blown a hole in a wall and flattened the main door of the building – The Telegraph

­GMT 0401: The blasts are becoming pretty regular now, with several explosions every 45 minutes of so. Still no word on what the gunman is doing, The Telegraph reports.

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­An exchange of fire has been heard with two shots from each side, Reuters reporter tells BBC.

­GMT 0235: Police have blown a hole in the wall of the apartment. Merah is holed up in another room – France3 citing reporters on the ground.

­GMT 0100: Three small blasts followed by a stronger one have been heard at the scene, according to a Le Monde reporter.

GMT 0050:­ Reporters on the ground say they have heard several gunshots in the area around Merah's besieged apartment.

­GMT 0000: ­Toulouse prosecutor Michel Valet says that the assault has not yet started, AP reports. "I cannot confirm that the assault has started. It's not as simple as that. We are waiting."

GMT 2340: The French interior minister says the three explosions were intended to intimidate the suspect, but the assault on Merah's apartment has not started yet – Reuters.

­GMT 2250: Toulouse’s deputy mayor says the assault on the school shooting suspect's flat has begun, BBC reports. Orange flashes have lit up the night sky near the building where gunman is holed up – AP.

GMT 2237: Three loud explosions have been heard outside the apartment building where the gunman is holed up.

GMT 2055: Journalists on the ground have seen officers in bullet proof vests and helmets moving around Merah's building – AFP.

GMT 2019: An attempt to broker the gunman’s surrender through someone he knew has failed – AFP.

GMT 2000:Power has been cut off in the area around the building where the gunman is holed up, which some say could be in anticipation of an assault.

GMT 1943: French interior minister Claude Gueant told TF1 TV that the suspect had received orders from Al-Qaeda but refused their request to carry out a suicide attack – AFP.

GMT 1809: Merah says he would rather live and explain his actions "with his head held high" than die a "martyr" – France 24.

GMT 1720: Police have found the camera Mohammed Merah used to film his murders – France 24.

GMT 1615: Giving details on the operation at the Toulouse gunman’s home, the French prosecutor said that the raid had begun badly as the suspect opened the door and started firing at police.

GMT 1612: Mohammad Merah has remained in his besieged Toulouse apartment for more than 13 hours since the standoff began in the early hours of Wednesday.

GMT 1608: The suspect has said he will surrender "late this evening”, French prosecution says – AFP 

GMT 1558: Prosecutor says French suspect was planning to kill another soldier and two policemen and had trained in Waziristan, northwestern Pakistan.

GMT 1543: The Jewish community said earlier in the day President Sarkozy had told them the suspect “planned to kill” on Wednesday morning.

GMT 1522: President Sarkozy says the three paratroopers were victims of a "terrorist execution".

GMT 1459: Nicolas Sarkozy pays tribute to soldiers at their funerals. His voice sounds trembling as he is making his speech.

GMT 1456: President Sarkozy has arrived at the Montauban Barracks, some 60 km from Toulouse, for the funeral service of three paratroopers.

GMT 1455: The French government does not rule out that negotiations with Merah may be “long and difficult” as he has a “strong temperament.” - AFP

GMT 1432: French Interior Minister Claude Guéant says police tapped Mohammed Merah's phone from Monday to trace the alleged killer.

GMT 1401: French interior minister denies reports that suspected Mohammed Merah was arrested – Reuters

GMT 1350: Six presidential candidates will attend the funeral service of the three murdered paratroopers – The Telegraph

GMT 1349: French police have reportedly found explosives in car which belongs to the suspect’s brother – AFP

GMT 1343: According to some speculation, President Sarkozy himself will announce Merah's arrest – The Guardian

GMT 1330: French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives at the house siege in Toulouse. He will reportedly meet police units which were in charge of the operation and will also attend a ceremony in honor of the three slain soldiers.

GMT1325: Mohammed Merah was reportedly arrested in police raid after hours of staying in his apartment in Toulouse – BFM TV

GMT 1320
: Mohammed Merah was radicalized in a Salafist ideological group after making two trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan – Reuters

GMT 1311 : The Kandahar governor’s office has reaffirmed its previous statement saying that “based on their records, no French citizen named Mohammad Merah was ever detained in Kandahar Province”  – Kandahar governor’s office on Twitter.

GMT 1256: Talking to France 24, the person claiming to be the suspect said his actions were part of a “much larger campaign” and that the country could expect further attacks in Lyon, Marseille and Paris – FRANCE 24’s Senior Editor Ebba Kalondo.

GMT 1240: French police say they are probing the alleged 11-minute phone call made by Merah to the news channel France 24.  “We could not confirm that it is the same man who has been surrounded by police in Toulouse today,” the news channel reported.

GMT 1224: Toulouse gunman wasn't arrested in Kandahar, he is not the one that escaped from Kandahar prison – governor

GMT1219: Police have re-established contacts with the shootings suspect, who remains in his apartment in Toulouse- AFP

GMT 1205: Merah escaped Afghan jail along with up to 1,000 prisoners, including 400 Taliban insurgents

GMT 1201: Several young French arabs have come down to the scene of the siege to condemn the attacks. "I knew this man when he was a boy, we grew up together in the same neighbourhood, playing football,"said one young man who declined to give his name. "That he went on to carry out these attacks has deeply shocked me. What he did is totally against the teaching of Islam" - The Telegraph correspondentt Fiona Govan reports from the scene.

GMT 1152: The bus that has driven away the residents in the block where Merah is locked in a stand-off with police was marked "special". Earlier they  spent several hours in fear in their flats – the Telegraph

GMT 1144: Toulouse ­suspect escaped from Kandahar jail in mass Taliban jailbreak in 2008, prison director confirms to BBC

GMT 1126 Police have cut electricity and gas to the apartment block where seige continues – the Telegraph's Fiona Govan reports from the scene

GMT 1115: "Alleged gunman Mohammed Merah was sentenced to three years in prison but escaped in a mass jailbreak orchestrated by the Taliban," Ghulam Faruq, the director of Kandahar prison, tells Reuters

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: Toulouse suspect was arrested in Afghanistan for planting bombs, Kandahar prison director tells Reuters

GMT 1050: "It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life," – Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad says. His comments come after the alleged gunman, Mohammed Merah, claimed his string of shootings were in revenge for the deaths of Palestinians – The Telegraph

GMT 1045: Possible cause for evacuation – residents living in the same block as the gunman reportedly begged to be let out. A neighbour trapped in the property, who asked not to be identified, told France Info radio by telephone: "You must ask them to get us out. There are shooting noises and the sound of the man who is talking to him," – The Telegraph

GMT 1035: The Palestinian diplomatic missions in France "condemn in the strongest possible terms the hateful attack carried out in Toulouse". "All racist crimes are attacks on humanity in general and on the republic in particular," – RTÉ

GMT 1030: "Stop using Palestinian cause to justify terror", Palestinian prime minister says after suspected killer claimed the attack was in revenge for the deaths of Palestinians   – Al Arabiya

GMT 1027: The gunman has told negotiators that he owns a car, a Renault Megane, which is parked at the front of the block, which he claimed also contained weapons. The French Interior minister Claude Guéant said the claims were confirmed by police – The Telegraph

GMT 1023: Gas cut off in block where Toulouse shooting suspect is holed up, neighbour tells me- ITV's Europe Correspondent on Martin Geissler on Twitter

GMT 1022: French President Sarkozy says France should not give away to discrimination or vengeance after shootings

GMT1020: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says "terrorism will never succeed in fracturing our nation"

GMT 1016"Have a partial view of the building from new vantage point. Police in balaclavas coming and going," – Irish Times Paris Correspondent Ruadhán Mac Cormaic on Twitter

GMT 1014: French media say Mr Merah's neighbours in Toulouse are being evacuated as stand-off continues.

GMT 1013: The mother and brother of the suspect in France's deadly shootings were detained along with the brother's girlfriend – AlArabiya

GMT 1006: Suspect no longer talking to police and weapons found in car close to surrounded flat, French interior minister says.

GMT 1004: French interior minister says the shooting suspect has been followed for several years by France's domestic intelligence service­

GMT 1002: Toulouse serial killer called France 24 before police arrived, said he will release video today

GMT 1001: French minister says gunman in Toulouse has stopped talking with police – AFP

GMT 0955: We are starting our live update on the siege of a Toulouse shooting suspect, Mohammed Merah, cornered by French police. The suspected serial killer is responsible for the murders of four people outside a Jewish school.