FRENCH police have laid siege to an apartment block where a self-declared al-Qaeda militant who claimed a series of deadly attacks on troops and Jewish children was holed up.
Officials said suspect Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent who has visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, bragged of being an al-Qaeda member and said he had killed to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.
Gunfire erupted as members of the RAID police special forces team tried to storm an apartment in a residential district of Toulouse in a pre-dawn raid, and two officers were wounded, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
After the clash the two sides settled down into an armed siege, with police initially talking to the suspect through the door. Nine hours after the standoff began, officials evacuated neighbours from the five-storey block.
French special forces that raided the building complex at 3am, were told he may give himself up this evening, Francois Molins, the Paris state prosecutor overseeing the investigation said at a press conference.
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