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Toulouse Shooting: Mohammed Merah 'Wants To Die With A Gun In His Hand'

UPDATE: Sustained gunfire has been heard at the scene of the siege in Toulouse. Sky News reported police were in the apartment as the shots were heard. More soon

Mohammed Merah, the man suspected of killing four people at a Jewish school and three soldiers, has said he "wants to die with a gun in his hand," as a stand-off around his flat enters its second day.

According to AFP, French interior minister Claude Gueant has said he is unsure if Merah, suspected of a series of shooting sprees in the south-west region of France, is still alive.

"We hope that he is still alive," Gueant added.

Merah, who claims to have links to an al-Qaeda fringe group, had earlier indicated he would surrender.

French police have been carrying out a series of explosions overnight to keep the suspect awake.

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Reuters quoted the director of prisons in Khandahar, Afghanistan, who said he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2007 but escaped en masse with other Taliban prisoners in 2008.

It was also reported that Merah had previously attempted to join the French military but was turned down because of his alleged criminal record.

Paris presecutor François Molins said that Merah was obsessed with watching graphic videos of beheadings and torture online, and said while he had trained at terrorist camps he did not have the "soul of a martyr" and was not prepared to die for his beliefs.

French commentator, Pierre Haski told the BBC's Newshour programme that "the mystery here is that he was found to have quite a good arsenal of weapons, war weapons, and given that he was under surveillance it's not clear how this could have escaped the attention of the authorities."

Toulouse siege