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Jihadist group claims responsibility for French shooting

March 22, 2012 | 10:17 am

A jihadist group that has claimed responsibility for attacks in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan said it was behind at least one of the recent deadly shootings in southwest France, according to the SITE monitoring group. The gunman believed to have carried out the French attacks, Mohamed Merah, was killed Thursday morning.

The militant group Jund al-Khilafah identified the gunman as Yusuf al Firansi, saying he had carried out an attack that "shook the foundations of Zio-Crusaderdom" on Monday, the day that three children and a rabbi were shot dead at a Jewish school in Toulouse, SITE reported.

The group reportedly called on the French government to "abandon its hostile tendency toward Islam and its Sharia, because such a policy will only bring woe and destruction." But the group did not mention earlier shootings in France or identify the killer by the name of Mohamed Merah.

Merah, who confessed to killing seven people in a series of drive-by slayings in Toulouse and nearby Montauban, had reportedly filmed all three attacks.

Police have now seen the footage. In the first video, Merah is heard saying, "You kill my brothers; I kill you," as he guns down a French paratrooper in Toulouse, prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.

Another video shows the killings of two other paratroopers in Montauban, with Merah exclaiming, "God is great" in Arabic, Molins said. Merah claimed he had posted the videos online, though it is unknown where.

As people clamored for more information about Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, the television station France 2 aired the report above, said to show Merah behind the wheel of a car. The video was found in the home of a friend, the station said.

Merah was shot in the head as he jumped from a window, still shooting, at the end of a standoff with police that lasted more than 30 hours. Police had wondered if Merah was even alive after losing contact with him for 10 hours, French Interior Minister Gueant said Thursday morning, the Guardian reported.

French law enforcement officials have access to amphetamines that allow them to stay awake for three days during lengthy sieges, Le Figaro reported (link in French), while small explosions set off during the standoff are meant to keep the suspect awake.

Gueant said that as a police squad raided the apartment, Merah emerged from a bathroom and started shooting. Two officers were wounded but should recover, officials said.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Video: France 2

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