The man suspected of killing seven people in France is still under siege at his home in France, and has boasted about bringing France "to its knees".
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Negotiations with Mohamed Merah have been ongoing since 3am on Wednesday morning, when 300 police officers surrounded a five storey building in a Toulouse suburb.
Merah police he would surrender this afternoon, later changing the timing to the evening. His mother, who is of Algerian descent, has been at the scene for hours and was helping the police with their negotiations.
The suspect is wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a rabbi and three children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse and three paratroopers days before.
A Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins, who is part of the anti-terrorist unit leading the investigation, told a news conference: "He has no regrets, except not having more time to kill more people and he boasts that he has brought France to its knees."
The suspect had already identified another soldier and two police officers who he wished to kill, Mr Molins said. "He has explained that he is not suicidal, that he does not have the soul of a martyr and that he prefers to kill but to stay alive himself," he added.
He said that the reasons for both shootings were two-fold: to protest against the French law enacted last year that banned the wearing of the full length Muslim veil, and also to protest against French military participation in the Afghan military campaign. Ebba Kalondo, France 24
Three policemen were injured earlier on Wednesday during a gun battle with the suspect as they tried to arrest him.
The French interior minister Claude Gueant told reporters that police wanted to take the suspect alive, and that he was thought to have an AK47 machine gun and other weapons.
Police believe that Merah has links to al-Qaeda. French news reports also link him to an Islamist group called Forsane Alizza though this has not been confirmed. The group was banned by the French government in January 2012.
Man claiming to be killer phoned national TV station
The TV station France 24, received a call at 1am on Wednesday morning from a man claiming to be the gunman, which the police said was credible.
In a video on Youtube, Ebba Kalondo, deputy head of the channel's Africa service who took the call, said that the speaker gave very specific information about the shootings of the paratroopers and at the Jewish school.
"He said that the reasons for both shootings were two-fold: to protest against the French law enacted last year that banned the wearing of the full length Muslim veil, and also to protest against French military participation in the Afghan military campaign," she said. "He also said the victims were chosen at random."
She added that the caller was very eloquent and calm: "He wasn't at all agitated, nor excited. Very, very calm, very convinced by what he was saying, very polite. He didn't stop saying it was just the beginning."
Who is the suspected gunman?
A picture of a young man, who moved from petty crime to fundamentalism, is beginning to emerge. Born to an Algerian mother, Mohamed Merah was being tracked by France’s DCRI domestic intelligence service for petty crime. He reportedly carried out 18 minor crimes, some of which involved violence, while he was being monitored.
Merah, who is in his early 20s, was born in Toulouse. He has spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but is not thought to have visited military training camps. A source close to the inquiry told news agencies that Mereh was arrested in Kandahar in late 2010 for an unspecified crime.
In his negotiations with police, he claimed to be part of an al-Qaeda operation and said that the killings were in revenge for the murder of Palestinian children by Israel. French Interior Minister Clauide Gueant said Merah was part of a 15-strong group of fundamentalists, who follow a Salafist ideology in Toulouse. His brother is also thought to be connected with the group, and is in police custody.
Mereh’s mother was at the scene helping police with their negotiations, but she told police that she no longer had any influence over her son. Mr Gueant said the man behind the killings was "someone who is very cold, very determined, very in control of himself, very cruel".
The director of Kandahar prison told Reuters that Merah escaped from the prison during a mass taliban jailbreak in 2008, after been sentenced for making bombs, but this has not been confirmed. Later reports from Afghanistan suggested that another person with the same name might have been involved in the jailbreak.
France 'must remain united'
French President Nicolas Sakozy said France should not give in to a desire for revenge or discrimination over the killings and added that he is bringing together representatives from Jewish and Muslim faiths.
"We must be united. We must give in neither to discrimination nor revenge," Mr Sarkozy told reporters in a statement at the Elysee palace.
France's most senior Muslim leader condemned the gunman's actions, and said that he had acted against Islam.
We must remain united. We should in no way yield to discrimination or vengeance. France can only be great in unity. We owe it to the memory of these men, we owe it to the three murdered children, to all the victims. Nicolas Sarkozy
A memorial service for the murdered French soldiers took place in Montauban this afternoon. President Sarkozy paid tribute to the men while standing before three coffins draped in the French flag after paying his respects to bereaved relatives.
"Our soldiers have not died in the way for which they had prepared themselves. This was not a death on the battlefield but a terrorist execution," he said. "We must remain united. We should in no way yield to discrimination or vengeance. France can only be great in unity. We owe it to the memory of these men, we owe it to the three murdered children, to all the victims."
Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of the three Jewish children and a rabbi shot dead at a Jewish school, at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem. Their bodies were flown to Israel overnight from France. Also in attendance were the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, the Israeli interior minister and justice minister.