French Prosecutor Francois Molins said Thursday that Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old gunman responsible for killing seven people, including four Jews, was killed after he sustained a fatal gunshot to the head during the police raid of his Toulouse home.
The raid followed a 32-hour standoff, which has been described as one of the most extensive police operations France has even seen.
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"Everything was done to try to arrest him alive." Molins said. He added that once the police stormed the premises, the gunman "came out of the bathroom shooting wildly and aggressively... and was shot in the head as he jumped out of the window."
Molins noted that as suspected earlier, Merah had filmed the killings of the Jewish schoolchildren on Monday and his attack on French paratroopers last week. He confirmed the authorities had watched the videos, which Merah – during the negotiations – claimed to have posted online.
Molins said that the gunman, in his first killing of a paratrooper on March 11, was heard saying on the video "You kill my brothers; I kill you."
When killing two other paratroopers on March 15, in the nearby town of Montauban, Merah is heard yelling "Allahu Akbar" – "God is great" in Arabic.
Rescue forces at the scene of the raid (Photo: Reuters)
France's Interior Minister Claude Gueant described the last moments of the raid: "The killer came out of the bathroom, firing with extreme violence." France Raid Squad, he noted, "had never seen an assault like it.
"Mohamed Merah jumped out the window, gun in hand, continuing to fire. He was found dead on the ground," he added.
Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that French who visit Internet sites supporting terrorism will be punished by law, a new measure in a crackdown following the Merah affair.
He also promised a crackdown on anyone who goes abroad "for the purposes of indoctrination in terrorist ideology."
The president appealed to the French not to confuse terrorism and Islam: "France's Muslims had nothing to do with the crazy motive of a terrorist," he said, referring to the nation's estimated 5 million Muslims, the largest such population in western Europe.
The family members of the Toulouse victims reacted with mixed emotions to the news of Merah's death. Aharon Getz, a friend of the Sandler family, told Ynet that "We were actually waiting for his public trial, something that could be used to eradicate anti-Semitism, but the main thing is that he is dead."
Ariel Monsonego, 8-year old Miriam's uncle told Ynet that "this news offers no comfort – this wasn’t what we were after. Killing him won't bring her back. "The only comfort here is that his heinous monster won't kill any more Jews or anyone else. The vengeance itself brings us no comfort."
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report
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