Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah shot dead

Simon Garner

A gunman responsible for shooting seven people in separate attacks has been gunned down by police.

Mohammed Merah was shot dead after he jumped from a window still firing wildly at the end of a 32-hour siege.

He was shot in the head after emerging from his flat in the Croix-Daurade district of the city.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said "[The police] had never seen anything like this kind of violence. In the end Merah jumped out of a window continuing to shoot. He was found dead on the ground. We were able to remove him and the dangers he posed to the people of Toulouse".

Video has since emerged of Merah driving a car and performing a 'rodeo' maneuver weeks before the siege.

Mr Gueant confirmed that two policemen had been injured in the siege crossfire, one in the leg and another suffered shock. He said Merah's attack on police was "frequent and severe" and they had never before seen "any such ferocity".

Responding to the Toulouse shootings, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy warned that France would not tolerate those who advocate extremism.

Mr Sarkozy said: "France has shown its indignation and grit but has not allowed anger to take over. The Muslim faith has nothing to do with the insane acts of this man. Before targeting Jewish children, he targeted other Muslims.

"We must be implacable in defending our values. We will not allow this ideology to affect us. From now on, any person who habitually consults websites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be punished by the law.

"France will not tolerate forced recruitment or ideological indoctrination on its soil."

Merah was believed to possess a cache of weapons, including an Uzi machine gun and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Interior Minister Claude Gueant earlier told BFM television that Merah had spoken to police through the door and had declared he was a "mujahideen" with links to al Qaeda who wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children in Israel.

The 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin yesterday had thrown a pistol from the window of the house in exchange for a "communication device".

The minister described how the gunman's mother was brought to the scene of the siege to help negotiations.

"She was asked to make contact with her son, to reason with him," Guaent said.

"But she did not want to, saying she had little influence on him."

The gunman's mother and brother have now been arrested.

Merah, known to French intelligence services, has made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past and has links with people involved in jihadism.

On Monday this week a gunman riding a scooter killed three young children and a teacher at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.

The deaths were quickly linked to the shootings of three French soldiers in two separate incidents earlier in the month.

[Related Article: Gunman in French shootings driven by racism - Sarkozy]

A 30-year-old non-commissioned officer of North African descent was shot at point blank range on March 11 in Montauban by a man using a 9mm weapon.

On March 15 two more soldiers of African descent were killed and another wounded near their barracks in Montauban. On both occasions the gunman fled on a scooter.