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Toulouse Shooting: Mohammed Merah Named As Suspect

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Claude Gueant speaks to the press
Claude Gueant speaks to the press

A 24-year-old student of Algerian descent suspected of carrying out a series of shooting sprees in France that have killed seven people has been named by police as Mohammed Merah.

French police said the suspect, who is believed to be responsible for killing four people including children at a Jewish school on Monday, has claimed he has al-Qaeda links.

French interior minister Claude Gueant said Merah had said he was fighting to "avenge Palestinian children."

LIVEBLOG: Click here to read the latest updates from the stand-off.

"This person has made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past... and says he belongs to al Qaeda and says he wanted to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army. He has links with people involved in jihadism and salafism," he said.

Police have arrested the man's brother at a separate location and have also brought his mother to the scene to help the negotiation.

Merah was caught after taking a scooter used at the school shooting to a garage, and through an email he allegedly sent about selling a motorbike.

According to ITV news, the father of his neighbour said Merah was in "trouble".

Reports suggests he has an uzi and kalashnikov.

The BBC reports he already has a criminal record. BFM TV, a French news Channel has claimed the suspect has links an Islamist group which has been banned in France, Forsane Alizza.

Merah called the broadcaster France 24 in the early hours of the morning, the network said.

He said he was connected to Al Qaeda, that what he did marked only "the beginning".

"Merah explained he was against the headscarf ban and was fighting against the French participation to Nato operations in Afghanistan,” said Ebba Kalondo, editor in chief of France 24, who spoke to the suspect, he said.

“The Jews killed our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” he said. The man was calm, talked articulately. He confirmed that all murders had been filmed and that the videos would be posted online.

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