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Backgrounder: Timeline of French serial killing

03-23-2012 09:17 BJT

TOULOUSE, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Interior Minister Claude Gueant confirmed Thursday that the suspect in an al-Qaeda-linked killing spree in southern France is dead after exchanging gunfire with police.

The following are the major developments of the serial killing case:

Imad Ibn Ziaten, a 30-year-old paratrooper, was shot dead on March 11 in the city of Toulouse in southern France by a man who escaped on a scooter.

Ziaten had apparently attracted his killer's attention through an advertisement he posted in a newspaper offering his scooter for sale. The ad said he was a soldier.

On March 15, Corporal Abel Chennouf, 25, and Private Mohammed Legouade, 23, were shot dead by a man riding a scooter outside their barracks in a town north of Toulouse. A third soldier was injured.

The French government began to track down the killer.

Four days later, on March 19, a man driving a scooter shot dead four people, including three children, at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

A 30-year-old teacher, Jonathan Sandler, and his two sons, Gabriel and Arie, and seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego, the daughter of the Ozar Hathora school principal, were all shot dead in the morning as they were going to class.

Investigators believe the seven victims were killed by a gunman who rode a scooter and used the same weapon in all three attacks.

Witnesses said the gunman was carrying a portable video camera, and surveillance video at the Jewish school caught the gunman's black scooter and its license plate number.

The French government raised the anti-terrorism alert to the highest level in Toulouse.

On March 20, investigators visited hundreds of people as they searched for clues. Schools throughout France observed a minute of silence. The bodies of the four Jewish victims were flown to Israel for burial.

Special police forces on March 21 stormed an apartment in Toulouse, which was believed to be the killer's hiding place. Three officers were wounded in the raid.

French officials confirmed that the killer was 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, who allegedly claimed responsiblity for the shootings and had links with al-Qaeda.

Police surrounded Merah's apartment building, confronted and negotiated with the suspect, who initially said he was willing to surrender. Merah's mother and brothers were detained.

Earlier on March 22, Gueant said police had lost contact with Merah for nearly 10 hours, and there seemed no signs of life in the apartment.

French police stormed the apartment at around 11:00 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) after Merah was holed up for over 30 hours. Three policemen were wounded by gunshots.

Merah died after he threw himself out of a window while still firing his weapon at police.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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