11.35 We have a little more from that fascinating call Mohammed Merah reportedly made to the news channel France 24 in the early hours. He is said to have told a journalist that he was motivated by France's ban on wearing the Burka. Ebba Kalondo, the deputy head of the channel's Africa service, says Merah wanted to "take revenge on the law against the full Islamic veil (in France) and also in France's participation in the war in Afghanistan and to protest against the situation in Palestine." Kalondo said:
He was a very eloquent young man. He wasn't at all agitated, nor excited. Very, very calm, very convinced by what he was saying, very polite. He didn't stop saying it was just the beginning.
He told her: "Either I go to prison my head held high or to death with a smile."
11.26 The Telegraph's Fiona Govan reports from the scene:
Police have cut electricity and gas to the apartment black where seige continues.
11.23 Some reports now suggest that Mohammed Merah, the alleged Toulouse gunman, is 23, not 24, as previously stated. We will try to clarify this and update.
11.18 Ghulam Faruq tells Reuters that Merah was detained by security services on Dec 19, 2007 for bomb making offences. He escaped from captivity during an insurgent attack on the jail where he was being held.
11.08 Breaking news from Reuters: alleged gunman Mohammed Merahwas previously arrested for planting bombs in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to Ghulam Faruq, the director of prisons in Kandahar. He was sentenced to three years in prison but escaped in a mass jailbreak in 2008 orchestrated by the Taliban, Furuq told Reuters.
11.01 President Nicolas Sarkozy has also paid tribute to the "exceptional work" of the police in tracing the alleged killer and said he would visit Toulouse attending a memorial service today for the French paratroopers who were shot dead by the gunman in Montauban.
10.44 Extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad says. His comments come after the alleged gunman, Mohammed Merah, claimed his string of shootings were in revenge for the deaths of Palestinians. Fayyad said in a statement:
It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.
10.41 And their pleas are answered: AFP reports that police have begun evacuating the building.
Residents of the small five-storey building had stayed inside their flats under police orders after the operation to capture the suspected shooter was launched. Police said they would be handed over to psychiatric counsellors.
10.34 Residents living in the same block as the gunman are reportedly begging to be let out, although experts claim evacuating the building could hamper negotiations with the suspect. A neighbour trapped in the property, who asked not to be identified, told France Info radio by telephone:
You must ask them to get us out. There are shooting noises and the sound of the man who is talking to him.
Cédric Delage, head of the UNSA police union in the Midi-Pyrénées region, ruled out an evacuation at this stage.
In an anti-terror operation with the arrest of a dangerous individual, it is impossible to evacuate. The evacuation of the building would be the best way to alert the suspect.
10.30 French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the shootings will not divide France. In a brief statement at the Elysee presidential palace, he said:
Terrorism will not succeed in fracturing our national community. We must be united. We must give in neither to discrimination nor revenge. I have brought together the Jewish and Muslim communities to show that terrorism will not manage to break our nation's feeling of community.
10.11 Claude Guéant, the interior minister, says Mohammed Merah, the alleged gunman, had been "followed for several years by the DCRI intelligence services". He said:
They never had any proof that he was preparing a criminal act. He committed several acts of delinquency, a dozen, some with violence His radicalisation took place within a group with a Salafist ideology and undertook two trips, one to Afghanistan one to Pakistan.
10.05 Breaking news from AFP. Police now say they have detained the alleged gunman's mother, brother and his brother's girlfriend. Henry Samuel reports that a second brother and two sisters of the gunman have also been arrested.
09.57 Henry Samuel has more details on the parcel bomb outside the Indonesian embassy in Paris this morning. Still not clear if this is linked to the Toulouse shootings though.
Police are hunting three men following the explosion of a bomb outside the Indonesian embassy in Paris' 16th arrondissement. A witness saw one man jump into a Citroen C3 containing two other men and drive off just before the explosion in the early hours of this morning. Nobody was hurt. No link has been established between the Toulouse killings and the explosion in Paris.
09.47 France's most senior Muslim leader says the gunman has acted against Islam. Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Muslim Council said:
These acts are in total contradiction with the foundations of this religion. France's Muslims are offended by this claim of belonging to this religion.
09.34 France 24 has some interesting detail of thealleged conversation between the gunman and its editor in chief, Ebba Kalondo. His comments support much of what the French authorities have said about the man's background and motives. However, they also report that the gunman claims footage of the shootings will be published online today. This supports claims yesterday that the gunman wore a GoPro camera to film himself carrying out the shootings. France 24 have all the details of that conversation here.
09.24 The gunman reportedly phoned the French rolling news channel France 24 in the early hours today, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda and that the his crimes were revenge attacks for Palestinian deaths, reportsHenry Samuel.
Ebba Kalondo, the editor in chief of rolling news channel France 24, said she received a phone call from a man claiming to be the killer in the early hours of this morning before special forces surrounded him. He gave details of the number of bullets fired in the three crimes and the type of arms used.
He said he was linked to al Qaeda and that it was just the beginning. He said everything was filmed and would soon be on the internet.
09.16 Claude Guéant, the interior minister, has elaborated a little on the trade-off between police negotiators and the gunman. He says the pistol discarded from a window of the property was in exchange for a "communication device":
He is currently in a dialogue with a police official and he says, I do not know if he is telling the truth, that he will hand himself in later in the day.
Gueant said the suspect is thought to be armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Mini-Uzi 9mm machine pistol and other handguns, but had thrown a .45 pistol he used to murder seven people in recent weeks from the window.
The presumed guilty party asked for a means to communicate with police. In exchange for this means of communication, he threw a Colt .45 from the window. He has certainly thrown one weapon out, but he has others.
09.08 Jérome, a neighbour of the suspect, was woken up at 3am to the sound of gunfire. He said:
We heard banging in the stairwell, then shots rang out. We could smell gunpowder. We all dropped to the ground. People were shouting and then they returned fire.
I saw the RAID (special forces) go up, I opened the door to my balcony for them. They came in, put their machine guns on the table, made a plan and went back down the stairs.
He said the suspect was unassuming.
He was quiet, had a little beard. I thought he was a student. It’s incredible he was behind these attacks.
09.04 A loud blast heard at the scene was apparently caused by police blowing up a car near the building which is under siege. AFP reports:
A police source explained that it was only the blowing up of a vehicle that was blocking access in the area.
09.00 The Telegraph's Fiona Govan reports from the scene that police want to evacuate the building of other residents and that coaches are arriving to ferry them away.
A man who lives in the flat upstairs from the suspect has called his father waiting outside the police cordon. "He is terrified. He woke up to sounds of gunfire and some sort of grenade. Since then little has happened. Building is in lock down and residents can't leave. My son is scared suspect is going to blow the place up."
08.45 The rector of Paris's Grand Mosque urged the country not to stigmatise its Muslim citizens following the disclosure that the gunman has claimed to be an Al-Qaeda member. Dalil Boubakeur said "99.9 percent" of Muslims in France are law-abiding citizens and that the killings of three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi in the Toulouse region were the work of a tiny "fringe".
I'm competely surprised that the author of these misdeeds be from a fundamentalist, jihadist, terrorist-type movement of the kind we thought was controlled, neutralised and harmless in our country
We understand the seriousness of this news ... because it is important not to mix this up with the Muslim religion, which is 99.9 percent peaceful, civic-minded, reasonable, non-violent and entirely integrated in our country.
08.42 The funerals for the three French-Israeli children and a teacher who were gunned down at a Jewish school in Toulouse have begun in Isreal. AFP reports:
Around 1,000 mourners, many of them weeping, could be seen at the sprawling Givat Shaul cemetery on the western outskirts of Jerusalem as the four bodies were carried to the gravesite.
08.40 Breaking news from AFP: French police name suspect as Mohammed Merah, 24, of Algerian origin.
08.24 Henry Samuel reports that the suspect opened negotiations with police by hurling a pistol out of the window. Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, said of the gunman:
He said he had intended to give himself up this aftenrnoon. He has asked to negotiate with police in exchange for throwing a Colt 45 out of the window.
Our main concern is to catch him and to catch him under such conditions that he can be brought to justice. Our concern is certainly to catch him alive.
08.21The Telegraph's Fiona Govan has this from the scene:
Suspect is said to be in one of ground floor flats of five storey building. Lots of police milling about outside and at least three ambulances on standby.
08.17 AFP reports that a blast has been heard from the property where the gunman is hiding.
08.16 Far-Right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen has broken her presidential campaign silence to declare: "The fundamentalist risk had been underestimated in our country".
Political-religious groups develop under a certain laxism. We now need to lead this war against fundamentalist political-religious groups who kill Christian children, our Christian children, our young Muslim men and Jewish children two days ago.
08.14 Claude Guéant, the interior minister, has just indicated that the suspect told special forces he had intended to give himself up this afternoon and may do so. Sporadic gunshots are continuing to be heard.
08.12 The gunman has apparently thrown a handgun from the window of his home but is thought to have other weapons, Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, said.
08.10 Here we have some video footage from the scene in Toulouse, where the siege continues:
08.06 Some 300 police have surrounded the five-storey block where the suspected gunman is hiding, Didier Martinez of the SGP Police union said.
08.02 Mathieu Guidère, Islamic fundamentalist professor at the University of Toulouse, said he was concerned the attack might be the prelude to others on French soil, linking it to the mail bomb outside the Indonesian embassy this morning. Monday’s killings came on the 50th anniversary of the Evian accords that marked a cease-fire ending its bloody war of independence from France, after 132 years of colonial rule. Mr Guidère told RTL radio:
Given that the events started on the day of the Evian accords, I am concerned that we could return to 1990s with a launch of a series of attacks on French soil and an organised network on French soil. I hope not.
Everything is symbolic in this affair since the beginning. This individual attacks symbolic places, symbolic people, he even employs an Israeli arm, an Uzi to kill Jews. He had nine months, a year to organise what he is doing. This is very premeditated.
Given the profile of the charafter, his determination and sang froid, I am concerned that he is a kamikaze who is prepared or is preparing a bomb that he may let off at the last moment, so I am very relieved that the building is being evacuated.
07.34 More detail is emerging about the police investigation which led officers to the suspect's address. AFP reports:
One line of the police inquiry was into an Internet advert to sell a motorbike placed by the scooter-riding killer's first victim, a 30-year-old soldier in the southwestern city of Toulouse. A message sent from the suspect's brother's IP addess was used to set up an appointment to inspect the bike, an appointmnet at which the paratrooper was subsequently killed, the source said.
The suspect's brother has been detained as police in an ongoing operation surrounded a Toulouse house where the man believed to be behind the killing was holed up. Police are hunting a gunman who carried out three shooting sprees. In each one he arrived and escaped on a scooter. The police source also said officers visited motorbike sales outlets in the region and were told in one that a man had recently asked how to turn off the tracking device on scooters that enabled them to be located if stolen.
07.04 Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, who is at the scene, said the suspected gunman's mother, who is from Algeria, was brought to the scene but she refused to reason with him, saying she had "little control" over him.
She was asked to make contact with her son, to reason with him, but she did not want to, saying she had little influence on him.
06.57 The BBC's Andrew Neil Tweets that claims of the gunman being a member of al-Qaeda will intensify the presidential election race.
06.52 Police are concerned that the suspected gunman may have explosives and that he will blow up the building, reports the Telegraph'sAmy Willis.
The area surrounding the house was cordoned off by police officers wearing full body armour and helmets, thought to be members of France's special weapons squad RAID.
06.40 The French Interior Minister Claude Gueant says three police officers have been injured in the raid. Gueant says the man is 24 years old, of French nationality and says that "he belongs to al-Qaeda." He says the suspect "wants to take revenge for Palestinian children" killed in the Middle East, and is angry at the French military for its operations abroad. Gueant says the man's brother was arrested.
06.37 Neighbours of the suspected gunman told AFP that shots rang out around 3am as police moved in to seal off a house in the southern city of Toulouse. It is understood that the 24-year-old suspected is resisting arrest.
He was in the first floor of a small building on Rue Vigne in the Cote Pavee district, a quiet residential area, neighbours said. "There was always a lot of people there," said one woman, who refused to give her name. Shots rang out at around 3:00 am witnesses said. One described these as an exchange of fire, and police sources had earlier said two officers were lightly wounded.
06.35 French police sources say officers are engaged in a stand-off with a self-proclaimed al Qaeda jihadist.