From Diana Magnay and Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Wed March 21, 2012
Toulouse, France (CNN) -- About 300 police officers surrounded an apartment in the south of France on Wednesday, trying to coax a man whom authorities called a self-styled al Qaeda jihadist to surrender after a series of shootings that left seven people dead.
Soon after special operations police mounted their raid in Toulouse at 3:30 a.m., shots rang out from inside, wounding two officers, police said.
The man later threw a handgun out the window, but he has other guns, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
As the standoff stretched to its sixth hour, Gueant said he expected the suspect to give himself up in the afternoon.
Gueant said the suspect had told him that, adding that he hoped the suspect was telling the truth.
But the suspect later broke off communications with the police, Gueant told reporters.
A prosecution official in Paris named the suspect as Mohammed Merah, 23. He was born in Toulouse, said Elisabeth Allanic, a magistrate at the Prosecutors Office.
He had been under surveillance by French intelligence for years, the interior minister said.
He had "already committed certain infractions, some with violence," Gueant said.
He was in a Toulouse court February 24 for causing an accident with injuries and driving without a license and served some time in jail, CNN affiliate BFM-TV reported.
Gueant said the suspect had a car containing more weapons near his apartment.
The suspect is accused of killing seven people in the last 10 days: a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school on Monday, and three soldiers of north African origin who had recently returned from Afghanistan in two earlier incidents.
As the siege went on, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would meet with Muslim and Jewish leaders and asked the nation "to unite together to show that terrorism will not be able to fracture our national community.
"France must be stronger than ever in national unity. We owe this to the victims who were assassinated in cold blood," he said.
Interior Minister Gueant said the suspect is a French national of Algerian origin who spent considerable time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Read More>http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/21/world/...html?hpt=hp_t1