LIVE BLOG

23:55 French defense minister: We want to capture him alive, so we can know his motivations and find his accomplices (BBC)

23:32 French police equipped with bullet proof vests and helmets 'taking positions' around building

22:36 French police turn off all lights on suspect's street, block all cellular phone reception in area

22:25 French Interior Minister says holed-up suspect plans to turn himself in to police at night 'to be more discreet'

21:20 France 2 TV releases first photos of Toulouse shooting suspect Mohamed Merah

21:09 France 2 TV: Negotiations between suspect and police reach dead end, police pose ultimatum to suspect

20:15: It's been 19 hours since police surrounded Mohamed Merah's Toulouse apartment

19:45 Police believe Merah has several arms in the building (France 24)

18:16 French prosecutor: Toulouse suspect says he will surrender 'late this evening' (France 24)

18:00 French prosecutor says Toulouse shooting suspect 'boasted about bringing France to its knees'

17:34 Sarkozy: French soldiers died in 'terrorist execution'

17:25 Police still negotiating with Toulouse shootings suspect (France 24)

17:10: Sarkozy says French serial shooter had plan to strike again this morning

16:45 Sarkozy attends funeral for slain paratroopers in Montauban

15:50 Police find explosives in suspect's brother's car (Le Monde)

15:45 French Interior Minister denies reports of arrest of French shooter

15:15 Suspect in Jewish school shooting spree reportedly arrested

15:02 Merah 'explained a lot about his itinerary' to police, and "his radicalization took place in a Salafi ideological group and seems to have been firmed up by two journeys he made to Afghanistan and Pakistan," according to Interior Minister Gueant (Guardian)

14:49 Key break in the manhunt seems to have come from a Toulouse Yamaha dealer who remembered a young man who asked how to disable the anti-theft GPS tracker on his T-Max scooter, according to Le Figaro report (Guardian)

14:22: Mohammed Merah appeared in court two weeks ago for driving without a license. His lawyer, Christian Etelin, says Merah's outward behavior is "gentle, courteous and civilized" (BBC)

14:15: Contact has been re-established between police and suspect in shooting, who is holed up in his apartment in Toulouse (AFP)

14:11: French Interior Minister: It seems Merah was a petty criminal who was radicalized in Toulouse before travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan (Guardian)

14:05: Editor of news channel France 24 received a phone call overnight from a man claiming to have carried out the attacks (Guardian)

13:59: Netanyahu: We must fight propaganda against Israelis, Jews that leads to such barbaric acts (Barak Ravid)

13:50: Business owner comes forward to help police in negotiating a surrender of the shootings suspect in Toulouse (AFP)

TOULOUSE - French police in the southwestern city of Toulouse tightened their siege of a gunman suspected of shooting dead seven people, including three Jewish children, in a killing spree in the name of al-Qaida.

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In an unfolding drama that has riveted France and the world, about 300 police, some in body armor, cordoned off a four-storey building in a suburb of Toulouse where the 24-year-old Muslim shooter, identified as Mohamed Merah, is holed up.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant denied media reports that Merah had been arrested. President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to speak to reporters in Toulouse shortly.

Gueant said the gunman was a French citizen of Algerian origin who had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan and had told police negotiators he had carried out his attacks to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and because of the French army's involvement in Afghanistan.

Earlier Wednesday, Merah cut off contact with police after saying he would turn himself in. The area where the suspect is barricading himself has been evacuated.
French police began a raid on a house in Toulouse at 3 A.M. local time on Wednesday to arrest suspects in the shooting at the Ozar Hatorah school. Two French police were wounded in a shoot-out during the raid.

The director of prisons in Kandahar told Reuters that Merah had been arrested for bomb making in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar in 2007 but broke out of jail months later after a daring Taliban prison break.

Meanwhile, a funeral service for the four victims of the shooting at the Jewish school in Toulouse earlier this week began in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.

In a Wednesday meeting with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who was in Israel to attend the Jerusalem funeral of the four victims, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We must fight the extraordinary propaganda against innocent Israelis and Jews everywhere, that leads these people to commit such barbaric acts.”

Netanyahu expressed his appreciation of French President Sarkozy and the French government's actions, and went on to say that “the struggle against terrorism requires more clarity.”

"Terrorism is an attack systematically directed against civilians, a deliberate attack against children. There is a fundamental difference between a deliberate attack against civilians and unintentional damage to civilians as part of a legitimate fight against terrorism. If we do not make that distinction, if we allow the acceptance of such false definition, the terrorists have won,” the prime minister said.