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Entries in Toulouse (8)

Wednesday
Mar282012

Toulouse Shooter's Dad Blames Govt. for Son's Death

Toulouse school shooter Mohamed Merah. (AFP/Getty Images)(PARIS) -- The father of Toulouse school shooter Mohamed Merah has threatened to sue the French government for killing his son in a shootout rather than capturing him alive, and has vowed not to "shut up" despite a scathing reaction from French officials.

In an interview with the television network France 24, Benalel Merah said police could have used "sleeping gas" to take his son "like a baby," and accused the police of acting hastily.

"Why did they kill him?" asked Benalel Merah. "He could have been sentenced to many years in prison or even a life sentence. There is no death penalty in France."

Merah told French media he would "hire the biggest-named lawyers and work for the rest of my life to pay their costs. I will sue France for having killed my son."

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe responded to Merah's threat by saying, "If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame."

Merah then told Algerian media that he would not "shut up" despite Juppe's comment.

Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian ancestry, was killed last week with a shot to the head after a 32-hour siege by French police. Before he died, he confessed to killing three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren in three separate attacks.

On Tuesday, the Paris office of the television news network Al Jazeera said it had received a memory stick in the mail with edited footage of all three attacks, apparently shot by Merah himself, but said it would not air the footage.

Police have arrested Merah's 29-year-old brother Abdelkader and charged him as an accomplice in the attacks. Officials also raised the possibility of a second accomplice, saying they did not believe Merah or his brother could've mailed the attack video -- which was postmarked last Wednesday, the day of the siege -- to Al Jazeera.

Mohamed Merah's body is being shipped to Algeria and will arrive Thursday, according to relatives who spoke to French media.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Video of French Shootings Won’t Be Aired, Network Says

ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Before he was killed by French special forces, the man accused of murdering Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and soldiers in France was allegedly able to get a video of his brutal attacks to a major news organization.  But that video will not be aired, the organization said.

Al-Jazeera, an Arabic- and English-language news outlet based in Qatar, said on Tuesday it will not air a video received by mail called “Al Qaeda Attacks France” that shows the three attacks in Toulouse and Montauban attributed to Mohamed Merah.  The network decided not to air the video because it “did not add any information that was not already in [the] public domain… [and] did not meet the television station’s code of ethics for broadcast," according to a statement posted on its website.

Al-Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief, Zied Tarrouche, told a French television station the video contained edited footage of the killings along with music, religious singing and readings from the Quran.

“You can hear the gunshots at the time of the killings,” he told BFM-TV.  “You can hear the cries of the victims.”

In the statement, Al-Jazeera said the video did not show Merah’s face, nor did it contain a statement from him.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the filming of the shootings “diabolical” and had asked the managers of any television stations that had the footage “not to air them under any circumstances out of respect for the victims and out of respect for the Republic [of France].”

While police believe Merah was the lone gunman in the killings, they said he did not send the video and now authorities are trying to track down a possible accomplice, according to French media reports.

Merah, 23, was killed last week after a 32-hour standoff with French special forces.  French authorities believe Merah was responsible for three separate attacks in France -- the shooting of three French paratroopers on March 11 and 15, and then the murder of a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren ages 4, 5 and 7 on March 19.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

French School Shooter Was on US No-Fly List

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A senior U.S. official has confirmed to ABC News that Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old suspect in three French terror attacks, was on the FBI's "no-fly" list, and said that French authorities would be aware that the U.S. had placed Merah on the list as a terror risk.

Just hours after a special forces raid in which Merah died, France's foreign minister said there were legitimate questions about how Merah was able to launch three attacks in which seven people died even though Merah had been on law enforcement's radar ever since a late 2011 trip to Pakistan.

"I can understand questions about whether there was a failure on the part of intelligence services," said Alain Juppe. "This should be looked into." A spokesman for Francois Holland, President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief rival in upcoming elections, called for an investigation into what he termed a "failure" by law enforcement.

After Merah was cornered by French special forces in a five-story apartment building in Toulouse on Wednesday, he told negotiators that he took credit for the three separate terror attacks, and said he had filmed them in hopes of placing the footage on the Internet. He also said that he had been to Pakistan for jihadi training, claimed a link to al Qaeda, and said he had launched the attacks to avenge the deaths of children in Gaza and the presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In attacks on March 11 and 15, a gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed three paratroopers and wounded a fourth. All the soldiers who died were of North African descent. On March 19, a lone gunman on the same model bike and using the same Colt .45 killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Three other students were seriously wounded.

Merah allegedly told negotiators that he had chosen the school as a target after failing to locate another soldier. French officials said Wednesday that Merah had planned to launch another attack that day on a specific soldier and two policemen.

French special forces raided Merah's home at 3 a.m. local time Wednesday, evacuating all other residents of the apartment building. Merah said he would surrender when dark fell, but then did not. He threw a Colt .45 out the window, but remained heavily armed with several automatic weapons and a store of ammunition. After a siege lasting 32 hours, and a series of explosions that were meant to unnerve Merah, a squad raided his apartment. At the end of a long gun battle, Merah died of a single shot to the head.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said that Merah, who had a prior criminal record for petty offenses, was interviewed after returning to France from Waziristan, Pakistan, a region known for Taliban-linked terror training camps, in late 2011. Merah, a French national of Algerian descent, said he had traveled to Waziristan as a tourist. Gueant said Merah produced vacation photos to prove it.

According to French media, a neighbor of Merah's had complained to police in 2010 after Merah allegedly made her son watch al Qaeda decapitation videos and declared himself a mujahideen.

The U.S. no-fly list is maintained by the FBI and contains the names of individuals who are not permitted to fly into or out of the United States because they are perceived to pose a risk. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that two U.S. officials had confirmed that Merah was on the list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

French School Shooting Suspect Dead, Ending Standoff

Getty Images(TOULOUSE, France) -- The man believed to be behind the killings of seven people in Toulouse, France, is dead after a two-day standoff with police.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant delivered a statement early Thursday, declaring Mohammed Merah had died.

Gueant said special forces were instructed Thursday to enter his apartment -- where Merah had been holed up since the standoff began on Wednesday -- because he was "dangerous" and threatened to kill police officers.

The interior minister said authorities at first could not locate Merah, who was hiding in the bathroom and later emerged, shooting "madly at everyone."  Merah then jumped out of a window to his death, weapons still in hand, according to Gueant.

Two police officers were reportedly injured in the raid, though neither critically.

The initial plan was to take 24-year-old Merah alive in order to question him about his alleged ties to al Qaeda and whether others were involved in Monday's shooting at a Jewish school that left a rabbi and three children dead, and two separate incidents last week that resulted in the deaths of three paratroopers.

But Gueant raised the possibility Wednesday night that the suspected gunman, who claimed to have been trained by al Qaeda during trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan, might kill himself rather than be taken into custody.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

French School Shooting: Police Raid Home of Suspected Gunman

Getty ImagesUPDATE: French media said Wednesday morning that the alleged gunman in Monday's school shooting in Toulouse has been arrested.  Police have denied those reports.

(TOULOUSE, France) -- The gunman who is believed to have been terrorizing southwestern France for the past week-and-a-half is surrounded by police Wednesday after they launched an early morning raid on the suspect's home in Toulouse.

The shooter, who has been identified as Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, is accused of opening fire and killing four people, including three children, at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday.  He has also been tied to the deaths of three paratroopers who were gunned down in two separate incidents last week in the Toulouse area.

Negotiations have been underway with the suspect, who, according to officials, said he would surrender later in the day.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar202012

Southern France on High Alert After School Shooting

ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images(TOULOUSE, France) -- Monday's shooting deaths of three children and a rabbi in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, was a continuation of a pattern of violence that compelled President Nicolas Sarkozy to raise the terrorism level in the region to its highest level.

Before the school shooting, which Sarkozy called the deadliest in France's history, three paratroopers were gunned down in two separate incidents last week in the Toulouse area.

It's believed the same shooter, who got away Monday, was involved in all the incidents.  There also seems to be an ethnic component to the attacks.

Two of the children who were killed were the sons of the slain rabbi, while a 10-year-old girl, who was the daughter of the Ozar Hatorah school's director, was also shot dead.

Sarkozy said that until the suspect is apprehended or killed, 14 riot police units "will secure the region."  The terror alert level will remain at scarlet, the highest on the color scale.

In another development, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said Tuesday that witnesses recall seeing a small camera around the alleged gunman's neck, with speculation that he might have been filming the shootings. 

Gueant admitted authorities have "no clear leads" regarding the shooter's identity or where he might be now.

Meanwhile, police presence at Jewish communities and synagogues in New York and other U.S. cities was beefed up,  even though no direct threats have been made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Gun in French School Shooting Linked to Prior Attacks

Gilles Bouquillon/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The French government has confirmed that the gun used to kill three French paratroopers last week is the same gun that a shooter used to fire on a Jewish school in Toulouse Monday morning, killing four, including a 30-year-old rabbi and his two children.

The shooter, who arrived and fled from the Ozar Hatorah school on a scooter or a motorcycle, "shot at everything he could see," according to local prosecutor Michel Valet.

The dead included Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, who taught at the school, his 3- and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh, and the school headmaster's 8-year-old daughter, according to the Israeli newspaper Ynet. Sandler, a French-Israeli national, had left Israel last September to begin a two year teaching stint at the school, according to the Le Parisien newspaper.

A 17-year-old and two other students were seriously wounded.

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French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet confirmed to ABC News that the same gun was used in two other incidents where a shooter targeted his victims while driving a motorcycle in the same area. Last Sunday, a paratrooper out of uniform was killed by a gunman on a motorbike outside of a gym in a suburb of Toulouse.

On Thursday, two soldiers were killed and a third wounded by a shooter on a scooter as they used an ATM in Montauban, about 30 miles away.

The same .45 caliber handgun was used in the shootings last week and Monday morning. All the paratroopers targeted were of North African descent. French media is also reporting that the same stolen Yamaha scooter was used in the school shooting and in last week's attack.

Police say they have locked Toulouse down as they hunt for the killer, and the government tightened security at all religious sites in France, particularly Jewish schools. Sixty police officers, including anti-terrorist police, are helping with this investigation after they had already begun examining the attacks on the troops.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, immediately flew to Toulouse, which is about 425 miles south of Paris.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

French Troops Banned from Wearing Uniforms Off-Base Following Shooting

George Doyle/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- After three French paratroopers were shot on Thursday, French authorities ordered troops stationed in the south-west of the country to not wear uniforms when they are off-base.

A man on a scooter shot and killed two paratroopers and critically injured a third in Montauban on Thursday, reports BBC News. The shooting is being linked to the killing of another paratrooper on Sunday in Toulouse where a man also escaped on a scooter.

While the paratroopers’ 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment served in Afghanistan, French officials say there is no indication of a link between the two. The motive for the shootings is unknown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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