The tense daylong standoff in France appears to be nearing an end: Three explosions were heard near an apartment building in Toulouse where a suspected gunman is holed up. An Interior Ministry official said the suspect had gone back on a decision to turn himself in, and police blew up shutters outside the apartment window to pressure him to change his mind. Conflicting reports emerged about whether a police raid had begun. Orange flashes lit up the night sky with each blast near the apartment building where police have been surrounding 24-year-old suspect, Mohamed Merah, since a pre-dawn effort to arrest him went awry.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said Merah was a self-taught radical Salafi who expressed glee at killing three Jewish children, a rabbi, and three French paratroopers. Merah had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, he said. Merah was planning to kill another soldier imminently, so police had to launch the 3am raid, Molins said. In the negotiations, Merah "expresses no regret, only that he didn't have time to have more victims. And he even bragged ... of bringing France to its knees," the prosecutor said. (Read more France stories.)