A hostage standoff at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris came to an end Friday as police stormed the premises, killing the gunman, as a nearly simultaneous assault was under way on the suspected Charlie Hebdo gunmen northeast of Paris.
Media outlets reported that at least four hostages had died in the supermarket assault as well as the hostage-taker. Speaking in a televised address late on Friday, French President François Hollande said the four had been killed in an “appalling, anti-Semitic act”.
Television pictures showed hostages fleeing from the supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes shortly after a series of explosions and gunfire were heard as commandos launched an assault.
Policeman interviewed by FRANCE 24 during Vincennes hostage situation
The hostage-taker has been “neutralised”, a police source said. Two police officers were injured in the assault to free the hostages. The four hostages who died were named Saturday as Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and François-Michel Saada by CRIF, the main French Jewish umbrella organisation.
DNA evidence on Saturday confirmed that the hostage-taker was Amedy Coulibaly, one of two suspects named by the police in the fatal shooting of a policewoman in the Paris suburb of Montrouge on Thursday.
Coulibaly is also thought to have links to Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers believed to have carried out the massacre of 12 people at the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. The two suspects were reported killed in an almost simultaneous raid in the town of Dammartin-en-Goële, not far from Paris’s main Charles de Gaulle airport, where the brothers had been involved in another hostage standoff. The hostage in that incident has been released unharmed, officials said.
A police official said the gunman in the supermarket siege had threatened to kill the hostages if police launched an assault on the Kouachi brothers. The official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the dual hostage situations, described the rapidly unfolding events on Friday as “clearly linked”.
Fate of female accomplice unknown
Coulibaly, 32, had been identified as a suspect in the Montrouge shooting by police earlier Friday, along with an accomplice – a 26-year-old woman named Hayat Boumeddiene.
It was not immediately clear if Boumeddiene had also been involved in Friday’s hostage standoff or what her whereabouts were.
The suspicion of links between Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers arose early Friday after police took two people in his immediate circle into custody, according to a source close to the investigation.
Shooting erupted at the supermarket on Friday afternoon and residents of Porte de Vincennes were asked to stay indoors as police surrounded the supermarket and a helicopter hovered overhead.
A police source had said the hostage-taker was equipped with automatic weapons.
Police ordered shops to close in a well-known Jewish neighbourhood in central Paris popular with tourists. The mayor's office announced the closures Friday of shops along the Rue des Rosiers in Paris's Marais neighborhood, around 4km (2.5 miles) from the Porte de Vincennes.
A police source had told Reuters he was a member of the same jihadist group as the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP ,REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-01-09