03/22/2012, 00.00
FRANCE - ISLAM - ISRAEL
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Toulouse, Mohammed Merah dies in clash with police

The police entered the apartment where the young man was locked up. The young French-Algerian, who was unemployed, had trained in Waziristan and has described himself as "mujahideen". He had long been under police surveillance. The funeral in Jerusalem of four slain in Jewish school Ozar Hatorah. The Palestinian prime minister asks to stop using the Palestinian cause to justify criminal acts.

Toulouse (AsiaNews / Agencies) - French police have succeeded in gaining access to the apartment of Mohammed Merah and have confirmed that the young man was killed in a "furious," gun battle. Merah was suspected of killing Jewish three children and a teacher, as well as three French paratroopers of Arab origin. The authorities raided the apartment where he had been holed up since yesterday. The interior minister said that the police wanted to capture him alive, but the young man, who had hid in the bathroom of the house, emerged shooting in a "furious" fashion and tried to escape through the window. Three policemen were injured.

The attack which began last night, had already had moments of violence and exchanges of fire, in which two policemen were wounded. But the police had orders to capture him alive and had put pressure on him. Yesterday the boy's mother was brought to the scene and asked to convince her son to surrender, but the woman said she had no influence on him.

Police psychologists were brought in to negotiate with him, from which the picture of his personality has emerged.

Mohammed Merah (see photo) - the name of the suspect - was 23 years old, French-Algerian, one of five children, three of them males. His parents divorced many years ago and Merah was unemployed for some time, after working in a car-shop. He had a history of lawlessness before joining radical Islam and being trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The prosecutor François Molin said Merah "expressed no regret, except that he did not kill more people" and that "he was not a martyr, but preferred to kill others and stay alive." He described himself as "a mujaheddin."

Yesterday, he told police he was part of the al Qaeda network and was trained in the tribal areas of Waziristan (Pakistan). Claude Guéant, interior minister, said Merah was already on a list of people controlled by the secret services. In November 2011 he was asked about his trips abroad and had replied that they were for leisure purposes.

Yesterday the funeral of four Jews killed in the Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse took place at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his sons Arieh 5, Gabriel 4, were wrapped in a white ritual shawl; the small Myriam Monsonego, 7, daughter of the headmaster of the school, was wrapped in a shroud of blue and Gold. Sandler's wife was present at the funeral, pregnant with another child. The chairman of the Knesset, Reuben Rivlin, expressed the sorrow of the nation: "The whole house of Israel - he said - cries for these murders."

Yesterday Mohammed Merah claimed the killings by saying that they were to "avenge the Palestinian children" and "crimes" committed by France in Afghanistan. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has condemned Merah's acts and criticized the links to Palestinian children. "It is time for criminals to stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their terrorist actions. The children of Palestine do not want to have anything but a dignified life for them and for all children."

 

 

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