Live Coverage: Suspect in French Jewish School Shooting Renews Contact With Police

Suspect under police siege had broken out of Kandahar prison in 2007; Toulouse area evacuated; Netanyahu: We must fight propaganda against Israelis, Jews that leads to such barbaric acts.


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)

A Google Earth image showing the site of the raid on the suspect in the Toulouse shooting.

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 the shootings suspect 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)

France shooting - Reuters - March 21, 2012

14:05: Editor of the French 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 school shooting suspect Mohamed 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, the director of prisons in Kandahar told Reuters.

Ghulam Faruq said that Merah was detained by security services on Dec. 19, 2007 and was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in Kandahar province, the Taliban's birthplace.

Other reports said the suspect trained with Pakistani Taliban militants before going to Afghanistan to fight with the insurgents. According to the French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, the suspect was followed for several years by France's domestic intelligence service.

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Earlier Wednesday, Merah cut off contact with police in a Toulouse neighborhood after saying he would turn himself in. The area where the suspect is barricading himself has been evacuated.

The 24-year-old man has already turned over a Colt handgun by throwing it out of the window in exchange for a means of communication with police, Gueant said.

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. The interior minister told French media that French police believe the prime suspect in the shooting is believed to be in the house. Two French police were injured in a shoot-out during the raid.

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.

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In a Wednesday meeting with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who was in Israel to attend the Jerusalem funeral of the four victims of the Jewish school shooting, 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.