Timeline of French shooting drama

2012-03-22 14:48
Policemen and rescue members gather near the Belle Paule residence after the assault on the besieged flat of self-professed al-Qaeda militant Mohamed Merah. (Remy Gabalda, AFP)

Policemen and rescue members gather near the Belle Paule residence after the assault on the besieged flat of self-professed al-Qaeda militant Mohamed Merah. (Remy Gabalda, AFP)

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Toulouse - A timeline of the shootings and subsequent house siege in the southern French city of Toulouse:

- March 11: Imad Ibn Ziaten, a 30-year-old paratrooper, is shot dead in a residential neighbourhood of Toulouse by a man who escapes on a scooter.

- March 15: Corporal Abel Chennouf, aged 25, and Private Mohammed Legouade, aged 23, are shot dead by a man riding a scooter outside their barracks in Montauban, a town to the north of Toulouse. A third soldier, also shot, is seriously injured. A manhunt is launched.

- March 19: A man driving a powerful scooter shoots dead three children and an adult at a Jewish school in Toulouse. The dead are 30-year-old teacher Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, aged 5, and Gabriel, aged 4, and seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school's principal. The gunman escapes.

Officials say the same weapon was used to kill the victims in all three attacks.

President Nicolas Sarkozy visits the school and orders the highest terror alert level in the southwest region. Security around Jewish and Muslim schools is strengthened.

Minute's silence

World leaders react with outrage to the attacks. Israeli leaders strongly condemn the "despicable murder of Jews", while UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemns "in the strongest possible terms" the killings outside the Jewish school. The Vatican describes it as a "heinous" act.

- March 20: Schools throughout France observe a minute's silence.

The bodies of the adult and three children killed at the Jewish school, all of them dual French and Israeli nationals, are flown to Israel for burial. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accompanies them.

- March 21: Officials say Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent who claims links to al-Qaeda, is believed to be the killer.

In the early hours, special police forces surround his Toulouse apartment, and three of them are wounded by gunshot when they try to storm it.

Police say Merah has told them he carried out the killings to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest against France's foreign wars.

Family members detained

Sarkozy, who says he is suspending his campaign for next month's presidential election because of the attacks, receives leaders of France's Jewish and Muslim communities in Paris and then heads for the region.

In Montauban, Sarkozy attends an official ceremony for the three soldiers killed, as does Socialist leader Francois Hollande, Sarkozy's main rival in the election.

Police say they have found the scooter used in the attacks, and also discovered weapons in Merah's car. The suspect's mother is detained, as are his two sisters and two brothers.

- Thursday March 22: The siege of the apartment in which Merah is holed up continues, with no news from the suspect since late on Wednesday.

Police say they have cut off utilities to the flat, and blown off the shutters and windows. Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who is at the scene, says police have instructions to take Merah alive if possible.

Around midday, police move into the apartment and heavy firing breaks out.

Interior Minister Gueant says Merah had holed up in the apartment's bathroom, opened fire on police and eventually jumped out the window with a gun his hand, continuing to fire. He was found dead on the ground.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  francois hollande  |  france  |  french attacks

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