Unless there has been a complete breakdown in communications among the French authorities, we are nearing the endgame of the Charlie Hebdo killings story. The two suspects, Cherif and Said Kouachi, are said to be holed up in a printing business to the northeast of Paris in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, very close to Charles de Gaulle airport.
A French town was circled by anti-terror forces Friday after at least one hostage was apparently seized by brothers being hunted in connection with the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Paris police spokesman Xavier Castaing told NBC News that an operation was underway in Dammartin-en-Goele as authorities tracked “armed and dangerous” fugitives Cherif and Said Kouachi.
He added that shots had been fired and at least one hostage taken at a building. The town of about 8,000 is located about 20 miles northeast of the French capital and just five miles from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Police surrounded a printing company in a mostly industrial section in Dammartin-en-Goele and helicopters hovered overhead.
There is no confirmation as to the identity of the hostage, but the suspects are in contact with police and have reportedly told them that they wish to die as martyrs. Speaking only for myself, I can’t imagine a single reason for the French not to grant their wish once the hostage is secured.
This story has been evolving so much over the brief period since we first started covering it that it’s hard to rely too heavily on anything coming out of the local French media at this point. Originally the suspects had escaped, then they had been caught, then they had caught the wrong guys… the brothers have succeeded in making a mess out of the coverage if nothing else. But we’ve got a number of news outlets on the scene now, and this latest development seems fairly solid.
Also “evolving” is the variety of descriptions given of the two killers. This morning the US media seems to have settled on “pot smoking pizza delivery boy” for Cherif Kouachi, at least in his younger days before he traveled to Yemen for terror training.
We’ll update this post when there is a resolution, but the end seems to be approaching. The French have a history of closing down hostage situations by bringing the criminals to room temperature as quickly as possible, but we’ll stand by and see how they resolve this one.
UPDATE: (Jazz) Multiple reports now saying that there are multiple hostages, not just one. The printing company is a family business run by a husband, wife and one child. Possibly other employees as well. May be as many as half a dozen hostages. Also, thanks to coolapic in the comments, there is a live feed from French TV available.
UPDATE: Second hostage situation in Paris at a kosher grocery may be unfolding.
UPDATE: As seen in the headlines, the carjacked driver in Paris tells authorities that the original killings were revenge for the death of Anwar al-Awlaki.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 9, 2015
UPDATE: (Jazz) Networks now picking up the second standoff at the kosher market.
With negotiations underway in a hostage standoff with the suspected gunmen in Wednesday’s massacre at a French satirical newspaper office, a second hostage situation was reported in eastern Paris Friday, police told ABC News.
Heavily armed SWAT teams moved into Porte de Vincennes after the second hostage situation developed.
The second location is being described as “related” to the Kouachi brothers. The gunman (singular so far) is reported to have contacted police and said that he would be holding the hostages until the cops backed off from the “siege” of the brothers to the northeast. Initial reports were asking if the fact that the grocery store was a center for Jews to do their shopping was significant. Might be a bit premature to make that connection yet. Obviously a possibility since we’re talking about Islamic terrorists, but it may have also just been a target of opportunity for a supporter of the brothers. Still developing.
UPDATE: (Jazz) Early reports confirming what our folks in the comments already dug up. Looks like multiple casualties at the Kosher grocery hostage scene. Still looking for multiple confirmations, so take this with the usual cautions for now.
#BREAKING At least two killed in hostage drama east of Paris: source
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) January 9, 2015
Possible ID of shooters involved in death of second policewoman yesterday. (May or may not be related to the shooter(s) at the Kosher grocery)
Amedy Coulibaly, 32 and Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, wanted by French police pic.twitter.com/fv85YYuy8Z
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 9, 2015
UPDATE: (Jazz) ABC and NBC confirming that the two suspects pictured above are the shooters in the Deli. At least two dead, multiple hostages including children.
UPDATE: (Jazz) Thanks to canopfor in the comments, good news in the fact that most of the shoppers escaped the grocery store.
BREAKING UPDATE: Most of the hostages at the kosher supermarket in Paris managed to escape. Police source tells AFP.
— Breaking News Feed (@PzFeed) January 9, 2015
UPDATE: (Jazz) As several commenters have discovered, there are conflicting reports of a third “armed incident” near Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower. No confirmation if this is related to the other two scenes as of yet.
An armed incident has been reported in the Trocadero area close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The vicinity has been evacuated and traffic is choked near the area.
“Tourists have been evacuated in the Trocadero and there are many police officers,” witnesses told Le Figaro.
Traffic was partially blocked, RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), a state-owned public transport operator, confirmed on Twitter.
UPDATE: (Jazz) 11:00 a.m. Smoke is rising over the scene of the printing shop and the sounds of flash bangs going off as well as gunfire. Officials tell reporters on the scene that an assault on the Kouachi brothers is likely underway. Waiting to see how the second hostage taker will respond if he was demanding that they be released. Disturbing aspect of this is that the reporters are claiming they heard gunfire before the flash bangs, which may indicate that the terrorists were shooting first.
UPDATE: (Jazz) 11:30 a.m. When it happened it happened pretty fast. In less than thirty minutes the sounds of gunfire had ceased and the action appeared to be over. Initial reports from police indicate that both of the brothers are “down” and the Mayor of the town is telling reporters that they have gotten their wish and are DRT. (Dead Right There.) A hostage (singular) is reported as rescued. Meanwhile, at the Kosher grocery, cameras show hostages being escorted out of the store. The lights are back on inside the store.
UPDATE: (Allahpundit) They got ’em. All of ’em.
Many French media reporting all 3 gunmen from both sieges are now dead. And all hostages freed. Le Monde, AFP, AP and others.
— Bill Neely (@BillNeelyNBC) January 9, 2015
Haven’t heard anything about any of the hostages being killed either, a near miraculous bit of counterterror finesse by the French. Remember, their degree of difficulty here was higher than in a normal hostage situation: Supposedly, the gunman in the Paris market was holding his hostages with a promise to execute them if the Kouachis were harmed. He probably had a radio on inside the market so he would have known quickly that a raid on the brothers was happening elsewhere in the country once it started. The cops’ only move, obviously, was to carry out the raids simultaneously, before the market gunman could react to the other raid. They came up aces in both.
UPDATE: (Jazz) 11:50 a.m. As AP noted, the third gunman who took over the grocery is dead. If any hostages were lost, they’re not saying so yet, but there are injuries reported. Here’s a great shot of a child being carried safely out of the grocery store.
UPDATE: (Allahpundit) I spoke too soon.
BREAKING: At least four hostages at Kosher supermarket siege in eastern Paris dead: police source http://t.co/aFcQM9dTZ5
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 9, 2015
That report is in dispute: The French ambassador to the U.S. claimed earlier that all hostages inside the market were alive, but maybe he simply had an outdated report. If so, maybe the gunman did get wind of the other raid on Kouachis and started firing, forcing the cops to move on him too. Or maybe this was a traditional crossfire situation. Horrible news either way.
UPDATE: (Allahpundit) The worst.
Breaking: 4 dead in E. Paris standoff says French Pres. Hollande: "France is not done w/threats targeting (the country)" #JeSuisCharlie
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 9, 2015