This Story Is Being Updated As Events Unfold:
Brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, the suspects in Wednesday’s terrorist massacre at French magazine Charlie Hebdo, are dead. Their deaths follow a two-day manhunt and a siege, where they held one person hostage, at a printing house 20 miles outside Paris. Their hostage has been freed.
French police and special operators coordinated their gunfire and explosions with those at another site, a kosher supermarket where a jihadist was holding hostages. The grocery store attacker was killed, though his accomplice remains at large. While the five living hostages were set free, the terrorist killed at least four others. (RELATED: This Is Why Jihadis Massacred Writers And Cartoonists At A French Humor Magazine)
The French interior ministry deployed over 88,000 officers to the two sites.
The attack at the grocery store, Hyper Cacher (“Super Kosher”), was linked to the fatal shooting of a policewoman Thursday morning. The store is in Porte de Vincennes, an east Paris suburb, while the Kouachi brothers fled to the town of Dammartin-en-Goële, about 20 miles from central Paris.
In response to the Jihadi threat to the Jewish community, police shut down central Paris’s historically Jewish Marais neighborhood, anticipating further attacks against Jews by Muslims. There have been no incidents reported in the Marais so far.
But the targeting of a kosher store is only the latest in a series of increasingly frequent Islamist attacks on Jewish people and establishments across Europe. (RELATED: Jews Leaving Europe For Israel In Record Numbers)
The policewoman shooting and the grocery store siege are being gradually linked to one man, 32-year-old Ahmed Coulibaly, together with his 26-year-old girlfriend Hayat Boumedienne. (Boumedienne reportedly fled the site of the grocery store.) Coulibaly was friends with the Kouachi brothers, who have been described as lower-class “slackers” before becoming radicalized, al-Qaida recruiters nearly a decade ago. (RELATED: Paris Attack Suspect Had Links To Al-Qaida, Al-Zarqawi)
The Kouachis’ neighbors report having seen a “cache of arms” in their apartment just months before they carried out the attack.
U.S. officials confirmed late Thursday that Saïd Kouachi had not only sent al-Qaida fighters to Iraq, but trained with the group in Yemen. Unconfirmed reports from the bloodbath in which the attackers called themselves “al-Qaida in Yemen,” then, are becoming increasingly credible.
Muslims constitute 5 to 10 percent of France’s population, compared to only 1 percent in the United States. While the French-born Kouachi brothers are products of an alienated, radicalized Muslim lower class, Muslims were also on the other side of Wednesday’s attack: the police officer shot point-blank on the pavement was Muslim patrolman Ahmed Merabet. (RELATED: Ahmed Merabet, Cop Killed In Paris Attacks, Was Muslim)
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