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Live Updates: French police kill terror suspects, end standoffs

January 9, 2015

Officers direct hostages who were freed after security forces stormed a kosher market in Paris. (Michel Euler/AP)

French security forces waged coordinated assaults at twin hostage standoffs Friday, freeing captives and killing three gunmen including brothers suspected in France’s worst terrorist attack in generations. The raids, in Paris and about 25 miles northeast of the city, in Dammartin-en-Goele, came two days after a terror attack at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

“Paris est Charlie”

(Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images)

(Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

Speaking during an event in Tennessee today, President Obama offered his condolences to the French people following this week’s terror attacks in and around Paris.

“We grieve with you, we fight alongside you to uphold our values, the values that we share, the universal values that bind us together as friends and as allies,” Obama said.

Obama said that after today’s raids, which left three terror suspects dead, he is hopeful that the “immediate threat” has been resolved. He said after Wednesday’s attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that he directed U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence officials to assist the French government.

“I think it’s important for us to understand, France is our oldest ally,” Obama said. “We want the people of France to know the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with the the families that have been affected.”

“The streets of Paris and the world see again what the terrorist stands for: suffering,” Obama continued. “We stand for freedom and hope and dignity for all human beings. That spirit will endure forever, long after the scourge of terrorism is banished from this world.”

  • J. Freedom du Lac
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In a pair of statements from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Robert G. Sugarman, the group’s chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice chairman, offered their condolences to the leaders and members of the French Jewish community and expressed “the solidarity of the Jewish community of the United States with the people of France.”

Sugarman and Hoenlein said that “as a matter of precaution, as in all such cases, we urge additional vigilance by Jewish institutions here, especially during the Sabbath.”

They added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jewish community in Paris and all of France at this critical time. We hope that steps will be taken by local and national authorities to end incitement and to hold to account not only those who perpetrate these outrageous crimes but those who aid and abet them.”

  • Julie Zauzmer
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The French president gave a televised address Friday and confirmed that four people were killed in the Paris supermarket where a gunman held hostages earlier Friday.

“I express all my solidarity to the families of the victims and the injured,” François Hollande said.

He congratulated French security forces that took part in the raids and called for “vigilance” from the public to combat domestic terrorism.

“France has not finished with this threat, and so I want to call on you for vigilance, unity and mobilization,” he said.

He said unity “is our best weapon” in the fight against terrorism, adding that it would “demonstrate our determination to fight against anything that can divide us.”

Hollande vowed that France would not be divided by racism or anti-Semitism. He described the hostage-taking at the kosher grocery store in eastern Paris as an “anti-Semitic attack.” He denounced the attacker and the two brothers who massacred 12 people at the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday as “fanatics who have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.”

The president called on French people to demonstrate Sunday to uphold “these values of democracy, freedom and pluralism to which we are all attached.” He pledged, “We will come out even stronger from this hardship.”

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

The Post’s Andrea Peterson notes that the nonprofit that operates top-level French domains, including .fr, has inserted a secret message of support for Charlie Hebdo in the data used to identify the Web sites it helped register.

Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, or AFNIC, appears to have added text art spelling out “Je Suis Charlie” to the records of sites whose top level domain names they help administer, as noted by several users on Twitter. You won’t see the text art message show up on the actual Web sites. Instead, it shows up if you run a search to look at a French site’s registration data, commonly called a “WHOIS” lookup.

Go here to read more.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would travel to Paris on Sunday to attend a national unity rally being held in the wake of the terror attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.

French President François Hollande and former president Nicolas Sarkozy are also expected to attend.

  • J. Freedom du Lac
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  • Abby Ohlheiser
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French television captured police descending on the Paris market where several  hostages were held Friday. The footage, among other things, shows multiple hostages fleeing the scene as police moved in.

  • Michael Birnbaum
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PARIS — Amedy Coulibaly was born in 1982 in the Paris suburb of Juvisy-sur-Orge as the only boy in a family of 10 children, according to French media citing police reports.

(Amedy Coulibaly)

Amedy Coulibaly (Getty Images)

He spent time in and out of prison starting in 2001, when he was convicted for robbery. French police believe he converted to radical Islam while in prison for armed robbery in 2005, the same time he met Sharif Kouachi in prison, French media reported, citing police investigative files. The two men became devoted followers of Djamel Beghal, a French-Algerian man with ties to al-Qaeda who was convicted of plotting in 2001 to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

When Coulibaly was freed in 2006, he took a  job at a Coca-Cola factory outside Paris. French security services apparently deemed him safe enough to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009, when Coulibaly was reported to have plans to meet with the leader as part of an effort to promote youth employment.

“I’ll enjoy it,” Coulibaly told le Parisien newspaper in July 2009, the day before he was scheduled to meet with Sarkozy. But “in truth, in the cities, with youth, Sarkozy isn’t very popular. But it’s nothing personal. In fact, that’s the case with the majority of politicians,” he said.

Coulibaly was apparently still engaged in quiet militant activity. Just 10 months after his meeting with Sarkozy, police searched his apartment and found 240 rounds of 7.62mm rifle ammunition – the caliber used in most Kalashnikov assault rifles. He told police at the time that he planned to sell the ammunition on the street, not use it himself.  Police said Coulibaly tried to break another militant Islamist, Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, out of prison in 2013. Although he was convicted and sentenced in 2013 to five years in prison related to the prison-break attempt, he was released early.

  • Abby Ohlheiser
  • ·

 
The Associated Press captured sounds of gunfire and explosions at the kosher shop in Paris.

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

Multiple news outlets are reporting that at least four hostages were killed at the kosher supermarket in Paris.

  • Griff Witte
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PARIS — Moments before the raid, Anthony Revaux, 29, spoke on the phone with one of the grocery store hostages, a friend who was hiding in the building’s cold storage unit along with several others, including at least one child.

“We’re very afraid, and we’re very cold. Tell the police to hurry,” the woman, whom Revaux identified as Noemi, told him.

“Don’t panic,” he replied. “The police will do their best.”

Revaux told her to conserve her phone’s battery, and the two hung up.

Within minutes, the streets echoed with gunfire.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

  • Michael Birnbaum
  • ·

PARIS — Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the United States, said the two gunmen in Dammartin-en-Goele and another at a kosher market in Paris have been killed.

“It seems that the brothers were killed in assault and the hostage is free and safe,” said Christophe Tirante, a senior police official.

Security forces also moved in on a hostage-taker at the Jewish grocery in Paris who had demanded that the two suspects in the attack on Charlie Hebdo be freed in Dammartin-en-Goele.

“At least 12 hostages are free and safe from the grocery store, but there were more hostages than initially thought,” Tirante said. “Now it’s not clear how many wounded there are inside the store.”

French police special forces evacuate hostages after launching an assault at a kosher grocery store in Paris. (Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Abby Ohlheiser
  • ·

There are numerous reports of smoke and gunshots at the site of the hostage standoff  in Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris.  

Earlier, police said they believed two suspects in the mass shootings at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris had taken at least one hostage in the town’s industrial zone.

Smoke was visible on several live feeds from the scene.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

Gunfire and explosions could be heard outside of a kosher shop in Paris, The Washington Post’s Griff Witte reports from the scene. At the same time, explosions and gunfire were heard at the site of the second hostage situation in Dammartin-en-Goele, 25 miles north of Paris.

There were about 30 seconds of sustained blasts and gunfire, Witte reports — then nothing.

  • Swati Sharma
  • ·

A middle-class neighborhood in eastern Paris was swarmed by security forces as an armed gunman was reportedly holding people hostage in a kosher grocery store.

Police vehicles lined the streets of the neighborhood.

The gunman was connected to the fatal shooting of a Paris policewoman on Thursday, which police linked to Wednesday’s rampage at a newspaper in Paris.

  • Michael Birnbaum
  • ·

Amedy Coulibaly, 32, is one of two suspects police named in connection to Thursday’s fatal shooting of a policewoman in a Paris suburb. And police have also identified him as a gunman holding hostages in a Paris Kosher market on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

(Amedy Coulibaly)

Amedy Coulibaly (Getty Images)

Like the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack, Coulibaly appears to have been well-known to French authorities for years before Thursday’s killing of a police officer on a quiet Paris street.

Starting in 2001, Coulibaly was repeatedly held for crimes ranging from theft to drug trafficking, according to French media reports.

In 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in an attempt to help another militant Islamist, Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, escape from prison, according to the Journal du Dimanche, according to the Liberation newspaper.

Le Monde reports that Coulibaly met with former President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009, a meeting that was written about in a French newspaper at the time.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

The French newspaper Le Monde spoke to an acquaintance of Amedy Coulibaly, one of two suspects in the fatal shooting of a policewoman in France on Thursday. Police have said that the gunman who took hostages at a supermarket on Friday is linked to the shooting in which Coulibaly is a suspect.

The acquaintance, who told Le Monde that he or she wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that Coulibaly had “slipped progressively from petty to large criminality and then toward Islamism. In total, he has spend a large part of his life in prison.”

Le Monde reported that Coulibaly spoke to the acquaintance in his hometown of Grande Borne à Grigny last weekend, and they spoke of seeing each other again. The newspaper said that Coulibaly did not carry a cellphone because he did not want his location tracked.

  • Griff Witte
  • ·

PARIS — The attacker struck as residents did their regular Friday shopping ahead of sundown and the start of the Jewish sabbath.

The hostages were believed to be a combination of customers and store employees.

“They were only targeted because they were Jewish,” said one of the women who works at the shop. “They ‘re just normal people trying to do their jobs.”

As the siege extended late into the afternoon, an eery quiet descended on the normally bustling neighborhood, filled with cafés and grand old 19th century apartment buildings.

Parents shuttled kids home from school through streets swarming with helmeted police brandishing assault rifles. The subway station was shuttered, and all traffic was diverted far from the scene.

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