PARIS — Mohammed Merah, French law enforcement officials said, started his career as an Islamic terrorist on March 11 by shooting a French soldier of Muslim origin in the head at close range after telling him, “You kill my brothers, so I am killing you.”
Merah, a 24-year-old French national of Algerian heritage, ended his career — and his life — at 11:30 a.m. Thursday by bursting out of the bathroom where he was hiding and opening fire with a vintage Colt .45 pistol on a squad of highly trained commandos who had pushed into his Toulouse apartment after a 31-hour siege.
The young man fired so many rounds that the semiautomatic pistol sounded like an assault rifle, said Francois Molins, the chief Paris prosecutor heading the investigation into Merah’s actions. The police fired back as Merah fled toward a sliding window opening onto a balcony, Molins said, putting a bullet through his head and sending him plunging lifeless to the ground. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said two of the commandos were lightly wounded.