Shots fired as French police storm gunman siege

Reuters , Thursday 22 Mar 2012

French police storm the apartment of their prime suspect in shootings that have killed 7 who claimed to be inspired by Al-Qaida

Gunfire rang out and explosions were heard as police special forces stormed an apartment building in southern France on Thursday in an attempt to capture an al Qaeda-inspired gunman who is the prime suspect in killing seven people, witnesses and officials said.

Assault rifle and lighter calibre gunfire rang out for around four minutes, and explosions were also heard, as special forces sought to capture Mohamed Merah, and an official said that gas was also used to try and paralyse him.

"They are in the apartment, they are using gas to try to paralyse him," said Nicole Yardeni, local head of Jewish umbrella group CRIF, in contact with security officials, shortly before the gunfire was heard by Reuters witnesses.

Police entered the five-story building in mid-morning following a standoff of around 30 hours. 

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