At noon, officers entered the apartment through a front door and windows that had been blasted out, Mr. Guéant said. Inside the apartment, the suspect, identified asMohammed Merah, emerged from a bathroom “firing with extreme violence,” Mr. Guéant said.
“At the end, Mohammed Merah jumped out a window with a weapon in his hand, still firing,” he said. “He was found dead on the ground.”
More than 300 rounds were discharged in the firefight, reports indicated, and Mr. Guéant said two officers were lightly wounded.
French government ministers had said that they hoped to take him alive. President Nicolas Sarkozy was to give an address in the early afternoon.
Mr. Guéant said the police entered the apartment and slowly searched each room using video equipment and fearful of a possible trap. Not finding Mr. Merah in any of the other rooms, they came to the bathroom last, he said. As the police began to inspect the bathroom with the cameras, Mr. Merah burst forth and began firing.
A former garage mechanic of Algerian descent, Mr. Merah made two trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, and said that he had been trained by Al Qaeda. Though Mr. Merah had initially indicated to negotiators that he hoped to live, Mr. Guéant told French radio earlier on Thursday he had indicated he wished “to die with weapons in his hands.”
Mr. Merah had barricaded himself in the apartment building in the quiet neighborhood of Côte Pavée on Wednesday, after police attempted to arrest him shortly after 3 a.m.
A series of explosions and gunshots which began before midnight continued into the early hours of Thursday, when French news media reported that security forces were attempting to destroy a window at the suspect’s apartment, deprive him of sleep and let in the night cold in the hope that Mr. Merah might surrender peacefully.
But those hopes diminished late on Wednesday after Mr. Merah indicated that “if he was taken, he would kill police officers,” Mr. Guéant said.
In the first six hours of the standoff, the suspect fired several heavy volleys at officers trying to enter his apartment, wounding two, though neither seriously. At one point he tossed a .45-caliber pistol from the window, the same kind used in each of the three attacks, and was given some kind of “means of communication,” according to the authorities, presumably a cellphone or walkie-talkie.
“He expressed no regrets, saving only that he did not have the time to reach more victims,” François Molins, the Paris prosecutor responsible for overseeing antiterror investigations in France, said, adding that Mr. Merah said he had planned to kill a soldier on Wednesday morning, and at some point to kill two police officers here.
A top editor at the news channel France 24 said in a televised interview that she had spoken by telephone to a man who claimed to be the shooter in the hours before the police surrounded Mr. Merah’s building. “He was calm, was speaking in very good French and punctuated by Arabic expressions,” said the editor, Ebba Kalondo. She also said he spoke of planning more attacks and of intending to post video of his killings online.
“This man wanted to bring the Republic to its knees,” President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said on Wednesday, but “the Republic did not yield.” He spoke in nearby Montauban at a funeral service for three soldiers that Mr. Merah said he had killed in the days leading up to Monday’s killings of a rabbi and three children at a religious school here.
The bodies of those killed at the school — Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, a religious instructor; his two sons, Arye, 6, and Gabriel, 3; and Miriam Monsonego, 8, the daughter of the school’s principal — were flown to Israel where they were buried Wednesday in the sprawling cemetery known as Har Hamenuchot, or the Mount of Rest, in the Jerusalem hills. Rabbi Sandler was a French citizen; the children had dual French-Israeli nationality.