Charlie Hebdo attack: gunmen killed after police storm hide-out January 10, 2015
- Kouachi brothers shot dead in overnight siege
- Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed in Paris grocery store siege
- Four Paris grocery store hostages declared dead
- Third siege at a jewellery store in south of France underway, police say not related to Charlie Hebdo massacre
- Female terror suspect still at large
SEVEN people have been killed in two sieges across France overnight, including the two brothers accused of slaying 12 people at a Paris newspaper, another gunman and four innocent captives.
The two groups of terrorists had seized hostages at separate locations around the French capital on Friday, facing off against thousands of French security forces as the city shut down a famed Jewish neighbourhood and scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks.
A female terror suspect, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large as authorities scramble to end the three days of terror that have gripped France.
Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of slain gunman Coulibaly, is believed to have fled during the supermarket siege which saw four hostages killed.
A third siege, which saw two people held hostage at a jewellery store in Montpellier, south of France has now ended after the man holding them surrended to police.
RT News reports that the two hostages have not been harmed and that Montpellier prosecutor, Christophe Barret, said there was no attempted robbery and stressed that the situation in Montpellier was not connected to the earlier events in Paris and in Northern France.
al-Qaeda Yemen claims responsibility for Paris magazine attack
Meanwhile, a member of the al-Qaeda Yemen branch- speaking on the condition of anonymity — has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.
He told The Associated Press that the massacre was carried out as “revenge for the honour” of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The terrorist organisation has also released a chilling new warning for France, threatening the nation with fresh attacks.
“It is better for you to stop your aggression against the Muslims, so perhaps you will live safely. If you refuse but to wage war, then wait for the glad tiding,” sharia official leader Harith al-Nadharisaid in an audio clip released by AQAP.
The three gunmen have also been deemed “heroes” by Islamic State group radio.
First siege: Printworks office in Dammartin-en-Goële
At the first stand-off, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, had holed up with a hostage.
The brothers were shot dead by special forces as they reportedly burst out of their hide-out.
Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day.
Their hostage, identified as Michel Catalano, is believed to have been rescued alive.
Second siege: Kosher grocery store in Vincennes
Moments after police surrounded the Kouachi brothers outside Paris, explosions were heard at a second siege, where another Islamic militant gunman was threatening to kill his hostages if the brothers were injured.
Gunman Amedy Coulibay spoke to French TV station BFM during the siege, saying he had taken 16 people hostage at a kosher grocery store, selected specifically “because it was Jewish”.
He said four of his captives were dead.
He told the station he had “co-ordinated” with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State group.
BFM released the recording of the conversation, which was translated from French by The Guardian.
In the clip, the anchor explains that a BFM reporter called the print works office the Kouachi brothers had taken over, and managed to secure a conversation with the younger brother, Cerif Kouachi. This is what he said:
“We just want to say that we are the defenders of the prophet, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. And that I went there and that it was Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki who financed me”, adding that the visit took place before Awlaki was killed.
Later that day, BFM got a call from Amedy Coulibaly, who wanted to be in contact with the police. Their conversation is below.
BFM: Are you in touch with the two brothers who conducted the operation at Charlie Hebdo?
Coulibaly: Yes. We synchronised our operations.
BFM: Are you still in touch with them? Have you recently spoken with them by phone?
BFM: How were you synchronised with the Kouachis? Are there further attacks planned?
Coulibaly: No, we only synchronised to kickstart things: so when they started Charlie Hebdo, I started on the police officers.
He also tells the TV channel that he has killed four of his 16 hostages, a fact later confirmed by French interior minister Bernard Cazenueve with the following tweet by French news source infos140: “B. Cazeneuve confirms the results from 5 deaths (including A. Coulibaly) and 4 wounded, Porte de Vincennes (France 2)”.
Coulibay, who was suspected of killing a police officer yesterday, was shot dead by police.
An official said the two sets of hostage-takers knew each other.
France on high-alert
The French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, has sent a series of Tweets confirming reports that two of the terror suspects were killed, according to “his information”.
France has been on high alert since the country’s worst terror attack in decades — the massacre on Wednesday in Paris at Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.
At the kosher grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighbourhood in Paris, the gunman, Amedy Coulibay, burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring “You know who I am,” the official recounted.
The official said Coulibay is also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday.
Paris police released a photo of Coulibaly and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice and girlfriend.
Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the kosher grocery were able to flee and get medical care, the official said.
Police said 100 students were under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.
Hours before and 40 kilometres away, a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle Airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.
“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.
Leaders respond to tragedy
French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that four people were killed in the siege in the Vincennes supermarket in a live televised address on Friday.
“I want to congratulate the courage, the bravery of the police officers of all those that participated in these operations,” he said. “I want to say to them we are proud of them.”
He also described the attack on the kosher supermarket as “anti-Semitic”.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama rallied to the support of France on Friday after the bloody end to hostage sieges in Paris, vowing to offer all assistance to combat the threat of militant Islamists.
“I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow,” Obama said at a speaking engagement in Tennessee, describing France as America’s “oldest ally”.