French minister denies shooting suspect arrested

French Interior Minister denied reports that a self-declared al Qaeda militant had been arrested during an armed stand-off in Toulouse.

Paris: French Interior Minister Claude Gueant
denied on Wednesday reports that a self-declared al Qaeda militant
had been arrested during an armed stand-off in the southern
city of Toulouse.

"The negotiations continue. They are still under way," he
said in a call to a news agency after French TV aired claims the
23-year-old suspect in seven killings had been taken into
custody by police special forces surrounding his flat.

A source close to the operation said the negotiations
with Mohamed Merah had been suspended during the morning
because "he was tired, he wanted to rest and to read".

But the officers are now once more in touch with the
suspect -- who is thought to be armed with an assault rifle, a
machine pistol and various handguns -- and are trying to
negotiate his surrender.

These talks may be "long and difficult", the source
warned, as "the young man has a strong temperament". (AFP)

PTI