(JTA) — All hostage takers are dead, and their hostages are being freed after simultaneous raids on the two sites in Paris, one a kosher supermarket, attacked by terrorists today.
It is not clear how many casualties there are, but at least two people in addition to the hostage takers are reported dead.
The hostage situation began at 1 p.m. Friday at Hyper Cacher, a kosher supermarket near Porte de Vincennes in Paris’ 12th arrondissement, at a time when the store is usually full of Jewish shoppers preparing for Shabbat, Chlomik Zenouda, vice president of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism said.
French police set up a security perimeter around the supermarket, where eight to 12 people, including at least one child, were being held hostage.
AFP, the French news service, said two people are reported dead. Zenouda confirmed the report.
Witnesses said the shots were fired from an automatic assault rifle. The shooter then retreated into the supermarket, witnesses said. One person was injured in the shooting, and French media later reported that at least two people died at the scene, although this has not yet been confirmed by France’s interior ministry. According to the online edition of the Le Point daily, the two fatalities were hostages.
French police simultaneously negotiated with two men who were holding hostages in a printing shop north of Paris. The men identified themselves as Cherif and Saidf Kouachi, brothers in their 30s whom French police named as the shooters in an attack Wednesday on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly that had come under attack by Islamists for its publication of items deemed offensive to Islam.
According to the Dutch Het Parool daily, police sources in France said the hostage takers at the kosher supermarket were in contact with the brothers. Reuters reported police had received threats that the hostages in the kosher shop would be killed if the brothers were harmed.
According to unnamed police sources, there is evidence linking the person responsible for the crisis at the kosher shop to the slaying of a Paris police officer Thursday by a man who shot her and another state employee with an AK-47.
The killer in the Montrouge attack shot the officer and wounded another person after his vehicle was involved in an accident, French media reported. He then fled the scene.
Reports said police have released photos of two people wanted in the shooting of the police officer: a man, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, and a woman, Hayat Boumeddiene.
Relatives of some of the people being held hostage at the kosher shop arrived at the scene during the standoff but were prevented from approaching, Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who was at the scene, told JTA. Among the hostages were one woman and her daughter, he said. The girl’s father was forced to wait behind the police line for over an hour, he said.
Police locked down schools in the vicinity. Authorities in the fourth arrondissement said that police had ordered shops to close on the rue de Rosiers, a Jewish area where shoppers tend to proliferate in the hours before Shabbat.
The terrorists involved in the various attacks were followers of Djamel Beghal, a charismatic Islamist, Le Monde reported.