By M. Sidelnikova
The operation to seize the suspect in the attack on a Jewish school in which 4 people were killed, who at the same time, is the suspect in the murder of 3 soldiers in Toulouse and Montauban is still going on in Toulouse. The suspect is Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin who calls himself a Mujahedin and claims affiliation to the international terrorist Al-Qaeda group. He says that he wanted to avenge Palestinian children, and also take revenge on the French army for taking part in conflicts outside France. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who has been in Toulouse since the beginning of the previously mentioned operation, also confirms that the young man has repeatedly visited Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The raid began at 3 a. m., and Claude Gueant is supervising the on-going developments in the operation. As soon as the police units approached the house where the gunman was holed up, that is situated several blocks away from the Jewish school, he opened fire. One policeman was wounded. At 6 o’clock in the morning the suspect’s brother and his girl friend were detained. Then his mother was brought to the scene. The policemen believed that she could help them to conduct the negotiations but the woman said that she did not want to come into contact with her son and that she had no influence on him. The gunman fired a few shots, and two other policemen were also wounded. After several attempts were made to start a dialogue with the suspect, at 9 o’clock in the morning he said that he didn’t want to surrender. Meanwhile, President Sarkozy who thanked the policemen for their work to quickly detect the suspect, and Interior Minister Gueant insisted that the criminal should be taken alive, ruling out the possibility of storming the building.
40 minutes later when the young man again came into contact with the police spokesman, he promised to surrender after midday. Speaking on the TV channel France 24, an expert on terrorism and security Jean-Paul Ney supposed that acting this way, the criminal is simply trying to play for time and that if his statements confirming his affiliation to Salafites are true, he will commit suicide.
The gas has been turned off in the area of the raid, and people evacuated.
According to the latest reports, the policemen are ready to begin storming the building unless the criminal agrees to surrender before 14.30 local time. However, for the time being, the storming of the building has not begun. The journalists on the scene say that the police are not taking decisive measures since the risk that the building is mined is very high.