French police corner al-Qaeda suspect after shootings

France flag
Toulouse (France), Mar 21: Shots rang out today as French police surrounded a self-declared member of the al-Qaeda network holed up in a house after a series of shooting attacks that shocked the nation.

Police sources told AFP that officers investigating three recent attacks in which a gunman killed three soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi sealed off an address in the Cote Pavee residential district of Toulouse.

Six or seven shots rang out, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but the area had been sealed off by police, including members of the RAID special weapons squad, and it was not immediately clear whether the siege was over.

"The suspect's mother was brought to the scene. 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," Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

"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," Gueant said, as the operation continued. "He has links with people involved in jihadism and salafism," he added.

Briefing reporters near the scene, Gueant said that the suspect's brother had been arrested while checks are carried out, although he confirmed that only one suspect had been at the scenes of the shootings.

"Today there are several operations being carried out at the same time in the Toulouse metropolitan area," prosecutor Olivier Christen said.

Two police were slightly wounded as the raids got underway, a source said. A source close to the inquiry said earlier that the suspect had exchanged words with the RAID team and had declared himself to be a member of al-Qaeda.


Please Wait while comments are loading...