Three terrorists who seized hostages at separate locations and ignited fear across Paris were killed on Friday along with three of their hostages as the gunmen clashed with thousands of French security forces.
France has been high alert since the country’s worst terror attack in decades the massacre on Wednesday in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.
Two al-Qaeda-linked brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo killings came out of their hideaway with guns blazing on Friday , a French police official said. Brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, killed in a shootout and their hostage was freed, authorities said.
Another gunman who took at least five hostages on Friday afternoon at a kosher grocery in Paris also died in a nearly simultaneous raid, said Gael Fabiano of the UNSA police union. The gunman was identified as Amedy Coulibaly.
Two police officials also confirmed Coulibaly’s death and one said three hostages also died at the grocery. The two police officials were not allowed to give their names to speak about the quickly developing situation. None of the officials could say what happened to the woman listed on a police bulletin as his accomplice.
Security forces stormed the Paris grocery minutes after their counterparts assaulted the printing plant northeast of Paris where two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo killings had holed up.
Moments later, several people were seen being led out of the Porte de Vincennes grocery store but security forces could still be seen moving around. It was not clear exactly how many hostages had been at the store or how many were freed.
Minutes before the storming, the gunman in a Paris kosher grocery store had threatened to kill his five hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, a police official said. The two sets of hostage-takers know each other, said the official, who was not authorised to discuss the rapidly developing situations with the media.
By today afternoon, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day.
After the explosions, a police SWAT forces could be seen on the roof of the building and one police helicopter landed near it. Audrey Taupenas, spokeswoman for the town near the Charles de Gaulle airport, said the brothers had died in the clash.
Trying to fend off further attacks, the Paris mayor’s office shut down all shops along Rosiers Street in the city’s famed Marais neighborhood in the heart of the tourist district.
The official said the gunman is also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday.
Paris police released a photo of the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice.
Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the kosher grocery were able to flee and get medical care, the official said.
Cherif Kouachi, 32, was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for ties to a network sending jihadis to fight US forces in Iraq.
A Yemeni security official said his 34-year-old brother, Said Kouachi, is suspected of having fought for al-Qaeda in Yemen. Another senior security official said Said was in Yemen until 2012.
Both officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity due to an ongoing investigation into Kouachi’s stay in Yemen.
Both brothers were also on the US no-fly list, a senior US counter terrorism official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to discuss foreign intelligence publicly.