An al Qaeda-inspired gunman who killed seven people in France is dead after police stormed his apartment in the southern city of Toulouse, French media reported on Thursday.

Three police trade union sources told Reuters that Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin who has confessed to killing three Jewish children and four adults, was dead, but there was no official confirmation.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's office had no immediate comment. The media reports said three police commandos were wounded in a shootout with the suspect.

Gunfire rang out for around four minutes as special forces entered the five-storey building where Merah had been hiding out since early on Wednesday, but the shooting later ceased, a Reuters witness said.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Paul Taylor)