Paris (IANS): At least seven people were killed Friday, including three gunmen, after security forces brought to an end two tense hostage dramas in separate locations in the French capital.
While Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers wanted in the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine that claimed 12 lives, were killed in a printing company’s office at Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, the third gunman, along with four hostages, were killed at a Jewish grocery store at Porte de Vincennes in southern Paris, media reported.
The killing of the Kouachi brothers was confirmed by Bernard Corneille, the mayor of the nearby village of Othis, CNN reported. The lone hostage they had taken was rescued alive.
In the other incident at Porte de Vincennes, five people, including the hostage taker Amedy Coulibaly, were killed at the kosher grocery store. While Coulibaly was killed in a security operation, the other four, all of them hostages, were killed at the beginning of the incident, police confirmed.
After Couliobaly was gunned down, BFMTV reported that police at the scene shouted “get down!” and “we’ve got him”.
An accomplice of Coulibaly, Hayat Boumeddiene, a 26-year-old woman wanted in connection with Thursday’s fatal shooting of a policewoman, escaped from the grocery store in the confusion as hostages ran away, CNN reported citing police union spokesman Pascal Disand.
Earlier, a police operation was launched in the area where the Charlie Hebdo attackers were holed up, Efe news agency reported citing a statement issued by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
An elite unit of the Gendarmerie got into place to carry out an operation, added the minister.
According to the television channel RTL, the suspects, who were brothers of Algerian descent, had entrenched themselves in a printing company office in the town and had taken a hostage.
At around 7.40 a.m. GMT, the two men stole a vehicle belonging to a woman in the town of Montagny-Sainte-Felicite and identified themselves as the Kouachi brothers who were wanted for the Wednesday attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine office.
A few minutes later, there was a shootout with police in Dammartin-en-Goele.
A witness quoted by RTL said he had heard two shots, and helicopters arrived soon after along with the security forces who ordered residents to stay in their homes and keep their windows closed.
Meanwhile, Coulibaly, the perpetrator of Thursday’s Montrouge shooting, took several hostages at Porte de Vincennes, 20th Arrondissement, south Paris, after firing gunshots around 3 p.m. Friday, Xinhua news agency reported citing BFMTV.
On Thursday morning, a 20-year-old policewoman was killed in a shooting in Montrouge. The gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on her and a civilian who was responding to a traffic accident.
Paris (IANS): Hooded gunmen dressed in black burst into the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday, killing 12 people, including eight journalists, in a coordinated strike and escaping onto the streets of Paris.
Among those killed was a cartoonist who drew a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.
World leaders denounced the cold-blooded mayhem that left over 20 people injured, four in critical condition, and forced French President Francois Hollande to rush to the scene and call it “an act of barbarism”, media reports said.
Efe news agency said that illustrator and editor-in-chief known as Charb and three more cartoonists — Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski — were among the fatalities. Two policemen were also killed.
The identity of the others who died was not immediately known.
The France edition of The Local news portal quoted the gunmen as shouting in Arabic: “We have avenged the Prophet!” and “God is Great!”
“It was carnage,” said a despondent Jean-Paul Huchon, a French provincial official. No terrorist group claimed responsibility.
The attackers made a well-prepared getaway in a car after shooting in the magazine’s office for several minutes. Video clips of the street outside showed two hooded men sprinting on a pavement, firing at a seemingly wounded policeman sprawled on the ground before getting into a black car.
As France tried to come to grips with the horror, a grim President Hollande said the killings were an attack “against our freedom of speech, a barbarous act against the journalists who had proven they could act in France with all the freedoms that the republic defends”.
Hollande said “Charlie Hebdo” had received threats on numerous occasions after publishing caricature of the Prophet Mohammed and had been afforded special protection.
The magazine was firebombed in 2011 after it published a controversial series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
With Wednesday’s attack, Hollande said, “we need to show that we are a united country” and “react firmly but also display national unity… They (killers) will be hunted down and brought to justice”.
France raised the anti-terrorism alert in the Greater Paris area to the highest level after the shooting as the gunmen had escaped, Xinhua said.
France, the target of Islamist fighters in reprisal for its military strikes against Islamist strongholds in Iraq and elsewhere, foiled several terror attacks in recent weeks, President Hollande said.
An emergency government meeting was held in the Elysee Palce to evaluate the situation and take steps to avoid further attacks.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined world leaders to denounce the carnage.
“Terror and violence have no place in any corner of the world,” Mukherjee said. “The world must unite to root out terror from every country and society.”
Modi called the attack as “condemnable and despicable”. “Our solidarity with the people of France. My thoughts are with families of those who lost their lives.”
US President Barack Obama denounced the “outrageous attack” in Paris.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “Horror and dismay for the massacre of Paris… Violence will always lose against freedom and democracy.”
PRIME Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday: “I am angered and saddened to hear of the terrorist attack today in the offices of the Parisian news magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” which has killed at least 12 individuals, including two police officers.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives during this heinous crime and wish a speedy recovery to those injured. The perpetrators of this attack must be apprehended and brought to justice.
“This barbaric act, along with recent attacks in Sydney, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and Ottawa, is a grim reminder that no country is immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.
“Canada and its allies will not be intimidated and will continue to stand firmly together against terrorists who would threaten the peace, freedom and democracy our countries so dearly value. Canadians stand with France on this dark day.”
On Friday Harper added: “The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with the family and friends of those who were killed during today’s hostage takings in France. We are also relieved that French authorities were able to neutralize three of those directly involved in these cowardly terrorist acts that killed many innocent people in several locations in France.
“I would like to commend French authorities for tracking down those responsible for these heinous crimes. It is my hope any other individuals responsible for planning and carrying out these depraved acts will be brought to justice and face the full force of the law.
“We stand with our allies in defiance of those who commit such barbaric acts and whose only aim is to usurp the rights of freedom-loving people everywhere, including the fundamental right of freedom of expression.”