French police end double hostage crises with raids, but four hostages die

The World
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French firemen and emergency doctors enter a kosher deli during a hostage situation at Port de Vincennes on January 9, 2015 in Paris, France.

French firemen and emergency doctors enter a kosher deli during a hostage situation at Port de Vincennes on January 9, 2015 in Paris, France.

Antoine Antoniol/Getty

French security forces ended twin sieges involving the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack and another man who French officials say was linked to the attackers. Police raided both sites, killing all three of their targets. We'll update this page throughout the day as the situations develop.

French president Francois Hollande announced on Friday evening in Paris that four hostages died as police stormed a kosher market in the Vincennes neighborhood, killing 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly, who was holding them. Authorities say Coulibaly knew Said and Cherif Kouachi — the two brothers accused of attacking the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killing 12 people — and demanded their release in exchange for releasing his hostages.

Shortly before the police raid on the kosher market, authorities forced their way into a building in an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where the Kouachi brothers were barricaded inside with a hostage. Police killed the two men and rescued the hostage.

The day of violence has rocked Parisians, says Vivienne Walt, a Paris-based correspondent for Time magazine. "Leaving aside this tremendous grief over the journalists, just the sense that this is a safe, secure city has been severely shaken," she says.

The Associated Press reported that Said Kouachi may have trained with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group's franchise in Yemen. AFP reported one of the brothers claimed the pair were backed by al-Qaeda. “We are the defenders of the prophet” he reportedly told French channel BFMTV.

“[The Kouachi brothers] said they wanted to die as martyrs. They are behaving like two determined terrorists who are certainly physically exhausted, but who want to escape with one last big show of force and heroic resistance," police official Mohamed Douhane said earlier in the day, as quoted by the New York Times.

On Friday evening, AQAP released a statement to news outlets including the AP and the Washington Post, claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The sound of gunfire and explosion was heard about 11 a.m. ET as French security forces moved in on the building where the Kouachi brothers were holed up. Police sources say the brothers initiated the raid by firing at the police surrounding their hideout.

Helicopters with French intervention forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele.

Helicopters with French intervention forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele.

Credit:

Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Coulibaly told French TV station BFMTV that he coordinated his actions with the Kouachi brothers.

Coulibaly was also named as a suspect in the shooting of a police officer on Thursday, which he also claimed responsibility for during his interview with BFMTV. His girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddine, was also named. She remains at large and is the subject of an ongoing manhunt.

“We don’t actually know how armed or how dangerous she is," says Walt, the Time correspondent. "Clearly she’s wanted, she’s an accomplice.” She says police and investigators are hoping “she is the one person that is left alive and who can perhaps help them piece together the puzzle of some of what has happened here."

Thus far there has been little indication of how the attack was planned without apparenty detection, and Boumeddine may have valuable information like "whether this plot was part of a bigger plan, whether they were acting under instructions, how they got the weaponry into France and into Paris, and many details which right now these men have taken to their graves with them," Walt says.