October 17, 2021

Jewish Grocery and Charlie Hebdo Jihad Gunmen ‘killed’ as Siege Comes to a Climax

  • Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi were killed as they tried to fight their way out of a print works 25 miles from Paris
  • Their hostage, named as the company’s director Michel Catalano, has reportedly been rescued by special forces 
  • Moments later police storm second siege in Paris supermarket where gunmen had taken hostages and killed two
  • Fellow jihadi Amedy Coulibay had been threatening to kill his captives if Kouachis were not allowed to go free
  • Thought to have been working with ‘dangerous’ girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene, whose whereabouts is unknown
  • Police ‘scrambled phone signals after suspects made contact with Coulibaly from inside the siege building’

Three Islamic jihadists were dead tonight after special forces brought an end to more than two days of slaughter which have left at least 17 dead and spread terror across France.

Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who had assassinated 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, died in a blaze of gunfire at a printworks near Paris where they had been holed up with one hostage, who survived.

Moments later, dozens of commandos stormed a Jewish grocery 25 miles away in east Paris where accomplice Amedey Coulibaly was threatening to kill a number of terrified people including women and children.

The 32-year-old, responsible for the death of a woman police officer on Thursday, was also ‘neutralised’ in the assault. Tragically, four hostages were killed while another five were badly wounded. There were reports tonight that another gunman had escaped the scene.

Going in: Special forces storm the Jewish grocery to the east of Paris where terrorist Amedey Coulibaly had taken at least seven people hostage
Going in: Special forces storm the Jewish grocery to the east of Paris where terrorist Amedey Coulibaly had taken at least seven people hostage

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Terrified: Hostages - who had been held for hours with Coulibay threatening to kill them - flee from the shop, crying with relief
Terrified: Hostages – who had been held for hours with Coulibay threatening to kill them – flee from the shop, crying with relief

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Coulibay is thought to have been working with his ‘armed and dangerous’ girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene, whose whereabouts is unknown.

Gunfire and explosions had been heard at the first hostage siege after police had surrounded the gunmen at an industrial estate 25 miles from Paris.

The siege reached a bloody climax when the brothers reportedly ‘came out firing’ after a nine-hour stand-off.

They had earlier told police negotiators: ‘We are ready to die as martyrs’.

At around 4.30pm, people living nearby reported hearing three or four loud explosions followed by several gunshots.

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Bloody climax: A huge ball of fire erupts amid gunfire and explosions as French special forces shoot dead the two Charlie Hebdo gunmen
Bloody climax: A huge ball of fire erupts amid gunfire and explosions as French special forces shoot dead the two Charlie Hebdo gunmen

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Cherif Kouachi
Dead: Cherif Kouachi (left), 32, and his brother Said (right) were killed in a firefight with French special forces at a industrial site
Said Kouachi
Dead: Cherif Kouachi (left), 32, and his brother Said (right) were killed in a firefight with French special forces at a industrial site
Explosions were seen moments later at a second hostage siege in Paris where an accomplice was threatening to kill captives if police stormed the Kouachis
Explosions were seen moments later at a second hostage siege in Paris where an accomplice was threatening to kill captives if police stormed the Kouachis
Amedy Coulibaly
Taken out: Amedy Coulibay was shot dead after taking at least six hostages at a grocery store in east Paris. He is believed to be have been working with his girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene (right) who was said to be ‘armed and dangerous’
Hayat Boumeddiene
Taken out: Amedy Coulibay was shot dead after taking at least six hostages at a grocery store in east Paris. He is believed to be have been working with his girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene (right) who was said to be ‘armed and dangerous’

More explosions followed and smoke could be seen rising from the building. Others reported seeing ambulances race to the scene.

A short time later three French special forces officers could be seen on the roof of the building.

Then, at around 5.30 pm, three large helicopters arrived at the scene and landed on the roof. The hostage was named as Michel Catalano.

His family were gathered at their detached home in the nearby village of Othis as the siege came to a dramatic end in Dammartin-en-Goele.

Police were last night stationed outside the property. One officer told MailOnline: ‘The family are all here. They have come to support Mrs Catalano. They are all gathered together but they are too upset to speak.’

Atlantis Farina, 17, who lives close to the scene was returning from high school shortly after 4pm when he heard explosions.

‘The ground here started shaking, that is what shocked me most,’ he said. ‘Then there was lots of what sounded like gunfire, it sounded like the suspects were firing back at the police.

‘There was smoke too – like they had thrown a grenade. I am so glad it is over, it bought panic to the area. My mum was very worried, and I was quite scared too.’

A man carrying a small child is seen fleeing from the ordeal moments after police stormed the kosher grocery store in eastern Paris
A man carrying a small child is seen fleeing from the ordeal moments after police stormed the kosher grocery store in eastern Paris
The man is pictured in a second shot, carrying a small child in his arms while the kosher grocery remains illuminated behind him
The man is pictured in a second shot, carrying a small child in his arms while the kosher grocery remains illuminated behind him

Philippe Lapotre, 63, was at his home across a field from the factory when he heard the explosions followed by gun fire and came out to see.

‘My friends and family have been calling me all day to see if I was ok,’ he said. ‘When I came out, three huge Puma helicopters came over.’

Carole and Thierry Charpentier were at home when the siege ended. ‘We have been at home, just watching the television all day,’ said Mrs Charpentier.

‘We are so very relieved it is over, and are glad the police have got the suspects and the hostage is free.

‘We would like the thank and praise the police and the special forces. But we are angry too, that this had happened. We are angry at what horrible things they have done’.

In Paris, police say Coulibaly, 32, was using the hostages as a bargaining chip to try to scupper the police response further north.

In their sights: Police train their weapons on a building where the Charlie Hebdo gunmen are holed up with a hostage in Dammartin-en-Goele
In their sights: Police train their weapons on a building where the Charlie Hebdo gunmen are holed up with a hostage in Dammartin-en-Goele
Frantic: Police rush to the scene of the hostage-taking at an industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goele around 25 miles from Paris
Frantic: Police rush to the scene of the hostage-taking at an industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goele around 25 miles from Paris
Siege: The gunmen are surrounded by police commandos who have begun negotiations to try to secure the release of the hostage
Siege: The gunmen are surrounded by police commandos who have begun negotiations to try to secure the release of the hostage
Trapped: The brothers were cornered in the premises of a printing firm after leading police on a dramatic car chase
Trapped: The brothers were cornered in the premises of a printing firm after leading police on a dramatic car chase
Scoping it out: Police and armed forces take up positions in Dammartin-en-Goele after landing by helicopter in fields near the hostage scene
Scoping it out: Police and armed forces take up positions in Dammartin-en-Goele after landing by helicopter in fields near the hostage scene
Police storm print works and kill Charlie Hedbo gunmen

He was said to be working with a woman called Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, considered ‘armed and dangerous’, and is said to have yelled at police: ‘You know who I am’ when they responded to the shooting.

MailOnline understands that police had earlier scrambled phone signals in the area after the gunmen contacted Coulibay while inside the building.

Revelations that a call was made by the Kouachis suggests they may have instructed Coulibay to carry out today’s atrocity to leverage their escape.

There were reports of another alert near the Eiffel Tower, with police seen training their guns down the stairs of a Metro station, but it was a false alarm.

Local media reports that the brothers met Coulibay while in prison.

He is believed to be a fellow member of the Buttes Chaumont – a gang from the 19th arrondissement of Paris that sent jihadists to fight in Iraq.

The Kouachis were cornered in Dammartin-en-Goele, around 25 miles from the capital, this morning after leading police on a dramatic car chase.

After exchanging gunfire with officers, they fled on foot into printing works where they are holding a hostage, believed to be a 26-year-old male.

A salesman called Didier later told how he was supposed to meet a client called Michel at the print works, but was instead met by one of the gunmen.

He said he shook hands with the militant because he had identified himself as a police officer and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle.

He said: ‘When I arrived, my client came out with an armed man who said he was from the police.

‘My client told me to leave so I left,’ Didier said, identifying the man he was to meet with as Michel.’

He said the black-clad man who was wearing a bullet-proof vest told him: ‘Leave, we don’t kill civilians anyhow’.

‘That really struck me,’ Didier added. ‘So I decided to call the police. I guess it was one of the terrorists.

‘It could have been a policeman if he hadn’t told me “we don’t kill civilians”. They were heavily armed like elite police.’

‘I didn’t know it was a hostage situation, or a robbery. I just knew something wasn’t quite right. I think I am going to go and see my colleagues and play the lottery because I was very lucky this morning.’

Meanwhile, a worker in a nearby building told how he barricaded the doors as the hostage crisis unfolded.

He said: ‘None of us feel safe. We can hear the helicopters. It is terrifying.’

One of the pupils inside the Dammartin-en-Goele school said by phone from inside: ‘We’re scared. We’ve called our parents to make sure they’re OK.

‘We’ve been told we have to stay inside. All the lights have been switched off.’

Snipers had their weapons trained on the building and helicopters were hovering overhead as negotiations were underway with the Islamic fanatics.

Runways have been closed at Charles de Gaulle airport, around five miles away over fears the gunmen have rocket launchers that can down planes.

Police confirmed a hostage had been taken and that officers are ‘trying to establish contact’ with the suspects.

The family of Michel Catalano, the director of the firm at the centre of the siege told Le Figaro newspaper that they had not spoken to him since this morning and feared he may be the hostage.

Mr Catalano and his wife Veronique live in Othis, less than four miles from the scene.

After a meeting with President Hollande when news of the siege broke, politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan said: ‘It’s time to terrorise the terrorists.’

Referring to Islam, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: ‘We are in a war against terrorists, we’re not in a war with religion.’

An Interior Ministry source confirmed that the men had said they were ‘ready to die as martyrs’.

Prior to the standoff, the suspects hijacked a Peugeot 206 from a woman in Ermenonville Forest, close to the village of Montagny-Sainte-Felicite, agyer abandoning their Renualt Clio.

A teacher named Charlene Blondelle was driving to work in the morning when she saw two men with guns stop the vehicle in front of her.

It was only when she got to work at the village school that she realised the two heavily-armed men were the Kouachi brothers.

Jean Paul Douet, the mayor of the village, said Charlene saw the two men force the woman out of the car and sit in the back seat.

It is thought that she was later let out of the car as the men continued their journey to Dammartin-en-Goele.

Both women are with police officers in Nanteuil-le-Haudouin. It is not thought that the woman sustained any injuries.

Mr Douet told MailOnline: ‘The car was taken at around 8.10am. The village teacher arrived at her school to see a car being hijacked in front of her.

‘She saw their weapons, and in particular their rocket-propelled grenade launcher.’

French media reported the brothers were in a car when they came upon her and abandoned that to use hers instead.

She recognised them as the wanted men, a police source said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said there was an exchange of gunfire with police who were manning a roadblock on the N2 motorway as the brother sped towards Paris.

He told France Info radio that no-one was injured in the clash.

Dozens of police then pursued the brothers along the National 2 highway, ending in Dammartin-en-Goele, close to the area where the huge manhunt had been focused on a forest overnight.

They escaped on foot with a hostage into a small printing business named Creating Trend Discovery, just before 10am (9am GMT).

Residents were warned on the town’s official website to stay indoors and pupils were being kept inside school.

Natoly Ratsimbazasy, a hairdresser in Dammartan-en-Goele, said the town – of 6,000 inhabitants – was deserted.

He told MailOnline: ‘It is very quiet in the centre. We have all been told to stay indoors and away from the windows. They have sealed off the area. We are all very scared, especially for the children. We don’t know how this is all going to end.’

A restaurateur in the town said: ‘It is insane what is happening, I can’t believe it.’

Universities and schools in the surroundings of the hostage crisis are shut for the day.

Student Nishanth Selvakumer, 20, said: ‘Every one is so shocked. There is not much work in Dammartain so most people work on the industrial estate.

‘In the village, they have been told to stay in their homes and stay away from the windows. The schools are all shut and the universities too.’

Rayane Bouallayuer, 18, said his 11-year-old sister and his father were barricaded into the school.

‘My sister went to school at 8am but at 9am we saw on TV that the suspects came here so my father went to get her. Now they cannot leave.’

‘The teachers have spoken to the kids and explained to them what happened in Paris. Yesterday they had a minutes silence at school but I think today they are very scared. Some of them were crying.

‘My family is Muslim but these men are not real Muslims. They are not like me. They do not represent us. Now it is going to get much worse for us real Muslims in France. ‘

Carole Morais, who works in the town hall, said: ‘We’re locked in and following events on the internet’.

The hunt also affected flights at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which closed two runways to arrivals to avoid interfering in the standoff or endangering planes.

The dramatic development came after thousands of police and soldiers had focused their hunt for the gunmen in a nearby forest amid fears they were planning a final ‘spectacular’ before capture.

The search for the gunmen last night focused on a cave in a vast forest in northern France, but had turned up nothing.

The pair left behind their identity cards in the Citroen they used for the massacre – a move which appeared deliberate, intelligence specialists said.

There was also no sign of the AK-47s and rocket launchers which they had earlier been seen with, suggesting they had taken them into the forest.

Police now fear they could take hostages or are planning a final ‘spectacular’ before capture as the search enters its third day.

Meanwhile, shots rang out close to the Porte de Vincennes in Paris as another hostage crisis unfolded.

‘There is a hostage situation – shots have been fired,’ said a Paris police spokesman, who said up to five people were originally being held in Vincennes and there were ‘believed to be two fatalities’.

French police have now named the suspected hostage taker as Amedy Coulibaly, 33, while his girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, is also believed to be involved.

Coulibay is believed to be the one responsible for shooting a policewoman dead in south Paris on Thursday.

The revelation has led police to link it to the murder of 12 people around the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday.

Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 27, was unarmed and directing traffic in Montrouge, in south Paris, when she was gunned down by Coulibay, who was still wearing body armour and using an automatic assault rifle.

The murderer has been identified by police who said he belonged to the Buttes Chaumont network, which sent Jihadi fighters to Iraq.

‘He was in the same Buttes Chaumount cell as the Kouachi brothers,’ said a source close to the investigation. ‘He was friends of both of them.’

Two of Coulibay relatives were arrested in nearby Grigny during a police raid this morning.

Like the Kouachis, he is known to have been radicalised by an Islamic preacher in Paris, before expressing a wish to fight in Iraq or Syria.

It came as Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted the Kouachi brothers were on the radar of the intelligence services and ‘were likely’ to have been under surveillance before the atrocity.

Yesterday, the brothers abandoned their car near the village of Abbaye de Longpont shortly after robbing a petrol station yesterday.

Anti-terror officers found a jihadi flag and a Molotov cocktail in the Renault Clio the gunmen hijacked to escape the French capital – and two men fitting their descriptions were seen running into the Foret de Retz, which covers an area larger than Paris.

A petrol station attendant in Villers-Cotterets told police he had seen Kalashnikovs (AK-47s) and rocket launchers in the vehicle which had sped away after the men had stolen food and water.

There are fewer than 300 residents in Longpont and armed officers were carrying out house-to-house searches as helicopters with thermal imagery equipment capable of identifying human bodies among the trees were called in.

Last night, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said a total of nine people were now in custody and more than 90 witnesses had been interviewed.

When and why that surveillance was dropped were two of the many questions being asked yesterday as a senior American counter-terrorism official confirmed that the brothers were on the US no-fly list.

But officials were tight-lipped about what else they know about them, including whether they fought in the Middle East with extremist groups.

CNN reported that the US ‘was given information from the French intelligence agency that Said Kouachi traveled to Yemen as late as 2011 on behalf of the Al Qaeda affiliate there’.

The network said Said received a variety of weapons training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), including on how to fire weapons. It added: ‘It is also possible Said was trained in bomb making.’

In 2008, Cherif Kouachi was sentenced to three years in jail for his association with an underground organisation.

‘While in jail, he came under the influence of the one-time British-based terrorist Djemal Beghal, who was sentenced to ten years in prison by the French courts for terrorist offenders.

But despite the security services knowing the men were radicalised and suspected of having been trained in military tactics in east Yemen by Al Qaeda, they were not under surveillance on Wednesday.

Last night there had already been several revenge attacks, with shots fired at a Muslim prayer room in the southern town of Port-la-Nouvelle.

A Muslim family was shot at in their car in Caromb, in southern Vaucluse, while ‘Death to Arabs’ was daubed on a mosque in Poitiers, central France.

 

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