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article imageFrench police track down al-Qaeda suspect in Toulouse shootings

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By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 21, 2012 in World
Toulouse - French police on Wednesday, surrounded a house in which a man claiming to be member of Al-Qaeda barricaded himself. Police believe the man was involved in the incident in which a teacher and three children were killed at a Jewish school in Tolouse.
On Monday, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and riding a scooter, killed a religious studies teacher, his son, and a seven-year-old girl at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse.
AFP reports that French police say officers investigating the shootings, in which three soldiers were also killed, have sealed off an area in the Cote Pavee residential district of Tolouse. A number of gun shots were heard early on Wednesday.
According to The New York Times, the police action began about 3.a.m. and continued for five hours. It is not yet clear whether the siege is over.
Financial Times reports investigators are negotiating with the suspect. According to The New York Times , the man who barricaded himself in a five-floor residential building, told police negotiators that the killings were to avenge deaths of Palestinian children and to protest deployment of French troops abroad.
AFP reports the suspect is thought to be about 24 years old. An official said: "He was in the DCRI's [France's domestic intelligence service] sights, as were others, after the first two attacks. Then the criminal investigation police brought in crucial evidence."
He had previously travelled to the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan where al-Qaeda groups are based. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, explained to reporters near the scene of the siege: "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."
AFP reports Gueant, said, "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."
Police are confident they have the right man. AFP reports a source said; "He's one of those people who have come back from warzones that always worry the intelligence services."
The Interior Minister told reporters the suspect's brother has been arrested.
Financial Times reports Gueant said the man opened fire on the police when they approached the house and wounded two officers.
The recent killings began on March 11, when a North African Imad Ibn Ziaten, 30, staff sergeant in the 1st Airborne Transportation regiment, was shot in the head in Toulouse, with a .45 calibre pistol, AFP reports. Four days later, three paratroopers were shot, two fatally, in Montauban, 45 kilometers (29 miles) from Toulouse. The men killed were Corporal Abel Chennouf, 25 and Private First Class Mohammed Legouade, 23. All soldiers killed were French soldiers of North African Arab origin. AFP reports Jihadist groups often target Muslims soldiers in Western armies as traitors.
According to investigators, all victims were killed in an execution style with a shot to the head at close range, using a .45 calibre handgun. The attacker escapes from the execution scene on a Yamaha scooter police believe was stolen from Tolouse 10 days ago.
Police report the man appears to have filmed himself as he executed his victims. According to The New York Times, Gueant said a surveillance footage from the school's security cameras showed what looked like a video camera strapped to the man's chest.
Financial Times reports the killings have shocked the country and stopped the presidential election campaign. Elections are due to take place in April 22 and May 6.
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