Blasts in France standoff not the beginning of assault

March 22, 2012 01:50

PARIS - Three blasts at the building were the suspect in seven shootings in southwest France is holed up were intended to intimidate him and there has not been an assault to get him out of his apartment, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

"They were moves to intimidate the gunman who seems to have changed his mind and does not want to surrender," ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters. "There is no assault."

A police source and a deputy Toulouse mayor had said earlier that an assault had started after three loud blasts had been heard at the building following a more than 20-hour standoff.

Police have been trying to get 24-year-old Mohamed Merah to turn himself over after he fired through the door at them while they tried to storm his apartment in the suburbs of Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

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