Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah
Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah Reuters

A group linked to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the shootings by Mohammed Merah in Toulouse, in which three children, a rabbi and three soldiers were killed.

Jund al-Khilafah, a jihadist group that had previously claimed attacks in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, claimed responsibility for the shootings in France, the US monitoring group Site intelligence said.

Merah died in a hail of bullets when police and commandos stormed his flat in Toulouse, where he had been under siege for 30 hours.

According to the latest reports, the jihadist filmed all the murders at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school with a video camera attached to his chest. In one execution, the prosecutor claimed the killer can be heard saying: "You killed my brothers, I kill you." Calling himself a Mujahedeen, or holy warrior, Merah said he acted "in revenge for Palestinian children killed" and French military operations abroad.

Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, is a militant Islamist group based along the Afghan-Pakistan border, which said it carried out the attack in the Kazakh city of Taraz in November in which six people were killed.

"No one should think that the killing of a solder in our brigade will possibly stop or hinder our movement, because in place of one there are tens and hundreds of lions who are ready to pounce upon the regime's ruined remnants," read a statement released by the group after the attack.

The group, whose aim is to restore an Islamic caliphate [system of government last used under the Ottoman Empire in Turkey in 1924], also released two videos of attacks on US bases in Kohst province, Afghanistan, which took place last year.

The name, Jund al-Khilafah, is to reminds Muslims "of their duty to revive the Islamic Caliphate as a system," Rawil Kusaynuv, the group's leader, said.

"It is the system of Shariah-based governance that must prevail in every Muslim country from the east to the west," he continued. "We believe that the region of central Asia, in addition to the Islamic Maghreb [north Africa] and Yemen, are candidates to be the nucleus for the return of the caliphate state in the future."