9 Jan 2015

Four hostages killed in bloody end to Paris sieges

Three gunmen and four hostages have been killed as police storm two sieges in the Paris area. The hostages died at a kosher supermarket in the east of the French capital.

An image released by AFP seemed to show six people being led from the store, and video images showed people fleeing the scene, but French police union sources told Reuters that “at least four” hostages were killed in the siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

Le Monde newspaper said that the armed man who took over the store in eastern Paris has also been killed after explosions were seen at the place where hostages were being held. One of the hostage takes at the supermarket siege is reported to have escaped.

President Hollande said the killing was an anti-semitic act, and confirmed that four had been killed.

He said it was “a tragedy for the nation”.

‘Targeting Jews’

In a conversation by telephone with television station BFM TV hostage taker Cherif Kouachi said that he had received funding from al-Qaeda.

In a separate conversation, also with BFM, hostage taker in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, said that he was targeting Jews to defend Palestinians.

“I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al-Qaeda of Yemen. I went over there and it was Anwar al Awlaki who financed me,” he told BFM-TV by telephone

Police said that they have killed the two men at the industrial estate north east of Paris where the Kouachi brothers, wanted as suspects in connection with the Charlie Hebdo killings, are understood to have been surrounded.

The hostage takings occured days after the deaths of 12 people, including two police officers, at the offices of Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.

It is thought that all the men were part of the same jihadi network, and well known to police, with two of them having served jail sentences for terror offences.

Kosher supermarket attack

One armed man earlier took six hostages at a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, Paris.

The hostage taker is understood to be the same suspect that killed a policewoman in a southern suburb of Paris on Thursday.

Not long after the Porte de Vincennes siege began, one eye-witness on French television described the situation as a “war scene”.

We were just beside [the store]. We heard gunfire. Then we saw policemen running. They’re still there […] by the ring road. They’re there – there’s a lot of them. They arrived very quickly and then evacuated the area.”

Paris police say the gunman had threatened to kill the hostages if an assault was launched on Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were surrounded by police on an industrial estate in the north east of Paris near Charles de Gaulle airport.

Industrial estate siege

Earlier, special forces were reported to have surrounded the industrial unit in a rural area north of Paris where the suspects were thought to be holed up.

They were thought to have taken refuge in one of the small grey buildings just south west of the main warehouse complex.

Police were reportedly engaged in a car chase north east of Paris on Friday morning – the third day of the manhunt for the two Charlie Hebdo suspects.

Cherif and Said Kouachi, both in their early thirties, reportedly robbed at a petrol station near Villers-Cotterets in Picardy on Thursday.