Mystery over fate of French gunman
The French Interior Minister says it is not clear if the besieged suspected gunman in Toulouse is still alive because police had "no contact" with him during the night.
The suspect, named by police as Mohamed Mehra and a self-proclaimed Al Qaeda follower, had said he wanted "to die weapons in hand," Claude Gueant said on radio.
"We have one priority: to take him alive so that he can surrender to face justice. We hope he is still alive," Mr Gueant said,
The minister noted that it was "quite strange that he did not react" when police exploded a series of charges overnight to get his attention.
"We heard two shots, we don't know what they were," he added.
"Despite redoubled efforts throughout the night, there has been no contact with him," he said.
Three loud blasts were heard at the apartment of the suspected gunman accused of killing seven people in south-west France.
"They (the blasts) 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."
Police have been trying to get 24-year-old 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 early on Wednesday.