Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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UPDATE: French police launch assault on besieged gunman



TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) - French police launched an assault late on Wednesday on an apartment where a gunman suspected of killing seven people in the name of al Qaeda was holed up, officials said.

Three loud blasts were heard at the site in the southwest city of Toulouse just before midnight, which blew open the door of the apartment where the gunman had been holed up since 3 a.m. (10.00 p.m. EDT), a police source said.

"I confirm that the assault has started," a police source told Reuters. The deputy mayor of Toulouse, Jean-Pierre Havrin, confirmed that negotiations had ended and the assault had begun.

Police had been trying to get 24-year-old Mohamed Merah to turn himself over after he fired through the door at them while they tried to storm his apartment in the suburbs of Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The 24-year-old Muslim shooter has been bottled up by France's elite RAID commandos since 3 a.m. (10.00 p.m. EDT) inside a five-storey building in a suburb of Toulouse.

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