IN A dramatic end to a 32-hour standoff, a masked French SWAT team slipped into the apartment of an Islamist extremist, sparking a firefight that ended with the suspect jumping out the window and being shot in the head.
Mohamed Merah, 23, was wanted in the deaths of three French paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi - all killed since March 11 in what Merah reportedly told police was an attempt to "bring France to its knees".
Police had been trying to capture him alive since a predawn raid to arrest him at his apartment in the southwestern city of Toulouse.
The killings he was accused of - and boasted about to police - have shocked France, ignited fear in moderate Muslims about stoking discrimination and may even affect the country's upcoming presidential election.
The seven slayings, carried out in three motorcycle shooting attacks, are believed to be the first killings inspired by Islamic radical motives in France since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
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