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Gunman to surrender 'at night'

The French Interior Minister has claimed a holed-up suspect wanted for shooting seven people dead plans to turn himself in to French police surrounding him at night "to be more discreet."

Claude Gueant told France-2 TV that the suspect, Mohamed Merah, appeared to have acted alone in the killings - but also claimed to authorities that he met al Qaida "chiefs" while travelling in Pakistan last year.

As night fell in France, the stand-off moved into its 17th hour.

Three police were wounded as they tried to arrest the 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent during a raid around 3am.

Prosecutors have said Merah was a self-taught radical Salafi who had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan.

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