France siege gunman ‚is dead‘

The man suspected of killing seven people in al Qaida-linked attacks in France is dead, an official said today.

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The news was announced on the police radio shortly after a five-minute volley of gunfire, said Didier Martinez of the Unite SGP police union.

It was not immediately known exactly how Mohamed Merah, 23, died.

Police had entered the flat where Mohammed Merah was holed up shortly after 09:30, after a siege that had lasted more than a day.

Three officers were reported wounded in the final assault.

Merah was suspected of killing four people outside a Jewish school and three soldiers.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said officers had thrown grenades and entered by the door and windows of the flat shortly after 09:30 GMT.

Outrage in the French press

Expressions of shock, fear, grief and outrage dominate today’s front pages in France.

Headlines such as „Horror and fear in Toulouse“ (Le Monde), „France is horrified“ (Le Figaro), „A national tragedy“ (Catholic daily La Croix), „Monstrous killings in Toulouse“ (regional daily Le Telegramme), „The shock“ (regional daily Le Dauphine Libere) and „National sadness“ (regional daily La Montagne) convey a mix of emotions after a gunman shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse.

Le Parisien carries a full-page photo of a man cradling a boy’s head, with the headline „France distraught at tragedy“. Other papers, too, carry photos of children or teenagers looking shocked and being comforted.

The front page of Liberation is all black, with a list of the victims‘ names and their ages in white lettering in the centre of the page. The list includes the names of the three soldiers killed in earlier incidents attributed to the same gunman.

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