French Shooting suspect
Mohammed Merah Reuters

The siege of the suspected killer of seven people including three children and a rabbi in a Jewish school in Toulouse has entered a second day with French commandos trying to arrest him alive.

The suspect, 24-year-old Mohammed Merah, is a French citizen of Algerian origin who said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children in Gaza and French army involvement in Afghanistan, according to the police.

France's elite Raid commando unit detonated three explosions overnight, flattening the main door of the building and blowing a hole in the wall, after it became clear Merah did not mean to keep a promise to turn himself in, Reuters reported.

Earlier, Merah informed the negotiators that he would prefer to turn up before the police as he did not want to die.

"These were moves to intimidate the gunman who seems to have changed his mind and does not want to surrender," interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

"What we want is to capture him alive, so that we can bring him to justice, know his motivations and hopefully find out who his accomplices were, if there were any," defence minister Gerard Longuet said.

Merah was trained in Pakistan and was on a mission to kill from al-Qaida. He had already identified two police officers and another soldier whom he wanted to kill, the negotiators were informed.

"He has no regrets, except not having more time to kill more people and he boasts that he has brought France to its knees," said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

"He has explained that he's not suicidal, he doesn't have the soul of a martyr and he prefers to kill but to stay alive himself."

It has emerged that Merah was known to the French police and was on its watch list. He had been arrested on several petty criminal charges before and most recently jailed for a month for driving without licence.

Despite earlier reports, Merah was not jailed in Afghanistan, the Kandahar governor's office said.