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Terror Continues in France as Standoffs with Gunmen Reported
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Hostages have been taken in two locations in France.

Summary: The violence in France this week continues with two separate standoffs with police.

UPDATE: 11:58 a.m. EST As of the publishing of this article, CNN is reporting that the Kouachi brothers, as well as the hostage-taker at the grocery store, have been killed by police.


It has been a horrific week for the citizens of France. On Wednesday, Islamic radicals attacked the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, shooting and killing twelve people and injuring eleven, according to Wikipedia. CNN adds that on Thursday, a policewoman was shot and killed south of Paris.

On Friday, CNN reports that the French police were engaged in standoffs with gunmen. One standoff involves a pair of brothers who are wanted for the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The other standoff is ongoing at a kosher grocery store where hostages have possibly been taken. As of now, it is unclear whether the situations are related.

The standoff at the grocery store is happening near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris. The city prosecutor’s office reported that a shooting had occurred and that hostages had been taken Friday afternoon. Anti-terror police hurried to the scene as the sound of ambulance sirens filled the area.

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Roads have been blocked off around the store, and law enforcement, heavily armed, can be seen inside.

At least one gunman, believed to be Amedy Coulibaly, a 32-year-old who is one of the two suspects wanted in the shooting of the policewoman, is allegedly holding six people hostage at the grocery store. The police have not said whether anyone has been killed. The other suspect involved in the fatal shooting is Hayat Boumediene, 26.

Earlier on Friday, about 25 miles away in Dammartin-en-Goele, the police surrounded a building housing a printing business, believing that the Kouachi brothers, the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack, are inside. Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, have been on the run since Wednesday’s shooting. The media reported that hostages may be in the building, but Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henri Brandet said on Twitter that this was not confirmed.

Negotiating teams have arrived at the building, and have attempted to start a conversation with the extremists. Yves Albarello, a member of France’s parliament, told the media that the pair told the police over the telephone that they wish to die as martyrs.

A salesman who called himself Didier actually shook one of the gunman’s hands on Friday morning around 8:30 a.m. as they arrived at the printing business. At first glance, Didier thought the man was a police officer since he was so heavily armed. The man said to Didier, “Go, we don’t kill civilians.” Didier said, “It wasn’t normal. I did not know what was going on.”

The Boston bombing was supposedly launched as retaliation for attacks on Islamic countries.

Schools are on lockdown in the area, and local residents have been told to stay inside their homes. Shops in the area have been told to shut down their operations.

Authorities have been closing in on the brothers since the attack. On Thursday, a gas station attendant near Villers-Cotterets, which is roughly 25 miles from Dammartin-en-Goele, said that the brothers threatened her and then stole food and gas from the store. Authorities believe that the brothers then fled into a nearby wooded area to avoid detection. Using night vision optics, the police thought they saw the pair near Crepy-en-Valois, not too far from where the robbery took place.

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The manhunt has been concentrated in the Picardy region in the northern area of France. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has issued the highest possible alert level in the area. Over 80,000 officers have scoured the country.

President Francois Hollande said, “France is living through a trial, when we see the worst massacre of this kind of the last 50 years. It shows that when a newspaper is attacked that it’s because it’s the expression of liberty itself.”

According to BBC, the attack is the deadliest France has seen since 1961.

After Wednesday’s attack, police recovered a container with gasoline and other items that could have been used to make Molotov cocktails in the vehicle used by the brothers. Said Kouachi’s identification was also found in the vehicle.

Nine other people have been detained while the police investigate the situation.

Said Kouachi, the older of the pair, has been to Yemen, where he had weapons training with al Qaeda. Cherif was previously sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a jihadist recruitment ring in Paris. The ring sent fighters to join the fight in Iraq.

On Thursday, an ISIS radio broadcast praised the extremists, naming them “brave jihadists.” However, direct connections to the group are not clear at this time.

Wednesday’s attack was not the first time Charlie Hebdo had been targeted. In 2011, its previous location was firebombed on the day it planned to publish an issue that made fun of Islamic law. Editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, or “Charb” said that the attack would not slow the magazine down. Charlie Hebdo continued to poke fun at various religions in its publications. Some have been offended by the cartoons published, but this is not unusual for European comic satire that is clearly targeted at an adult audience.

In September, an American citizen who had allegedly become radical in his views beheaded one of his coworkers.

Since 2011, Charb was guarded constantly. Yemen’s al Qaeda added him to their list of assassination targets. He was killed in Wednesday’s attacks. Other popular cartoonists known as Cabu, Wolinski, Honore, and Tignous were also slain.

Patrick Pelloux is a columnist for Charlie Hebdo. He is also a trained paramedic, and flew to the offices when he heard about the attack. He said, “I don’t know if I’m afraid anymore, becahse I’ve seen fear. I was scared for my friends, and they are dead. I know they didn’t’ want us to be quiet. They wanted us to continue to fight for these values, cultural pluralism, democracy and secularism, the respect of others. They would be assassinated twice, if we remained silent.”

Source: CNN

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