Coordinated response to linked hostage situations
The two suspects from Wednesday’s massacre, identified as brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were holed up Friday inside a printing facility in Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris. The one hostage they had been holding escaped.
“The operation in Dammartin is finished," a police union spokesman told the New York Times. "The two suspects have been killed and the hostage has been freed. The special counter-terrorism forces located where the terrorists are and broke down the door. They took them by surprise. It lasted a matter of minutes.”
Moments later, police stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris, killing a gunman was was holding several people. Four hostages were killed and five escaped.
The gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, one of two people wanted in Thursday’s deadly shooting of a policewoman south of Paris, had ties with at least one of the Kouachi brothers, suggesting that his hostage taking was meant to support their escape. The closely-timed storming of both sites by police also suggest that Coulibaly would have killed all his hostages if the Kouachi brothers had not been let go.
CNN reported a witness saying Coulibaly demanded freedom for the Kouachi brothers.
The New York Times quoted Mohamed Douhane, a senior police officer who is following the negotiations with the suspects:
"We have established communication with the Kouachi brothers,” he said…. “They 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. They feel trapped and know that their last hours have come.”
Since then, a massive manhunt had engaged some 88,000 French police all over the country. Early on Friday, a French security official told the Associated Press that shots were fired as the Kouachi brothers stole a car in the town of Montagny Sainte Felicite. French officials told Fox News that the suspects threw the car’s driver out at the side of the road. The driver, who recognized the suspects, then called police and alerted them to the suspects’ whereabouts.
When the two suspects entered the printing facility, there were reportedly four employees inside. Somehow, three escaped.
Paris police had issued an appeal for witnesses to locate Coulibaly and a woman thought to be his companion, Hayat Boumedienne, 26, as part of the investigation into Thursday’s shooting of a polce officer in Montrouge. "These people may be armed and dangerous," the appeal said.
Boumedienne reportedly escapted in the hostage standoff in Paris.
reports that an atmosphere of civil war hangs over Paris, with quiet streets, empty shops, worried glances, and bulletproof vested police carrying heavy weapons.
"The attackers of Charlie Hebdo wanted to instill fear in souls. They succeeded," Hirel writes.
Hirel points to what many are coming to realize, that the incidents of the past few days, and even beyond that, are the work of a French terrorist network. "We cannot yet talk about a terrorist network behind the tragedies that have affected Paris over last few hours, but the link is there: the Kouachi brothers surrounded by security forces in Dammartin-en-Goele, as well as Amedy Coulibaly, the suspected in the Montrouge killing, have a common past in the Buttes Chaumont jihadist network," he writes.
Fox News said that the Kouachi brothers were on a U.S. no-fly list. It quoted U.S. government sources confirming that Said Kouachi had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and had direct contact with an Al Qaeda training camp. The other brother, Cherif, had been convicted in France of terrorism charges in 2008 for trying to join up with fighters battling in Iraq.