Even as reports are coming in about an armed standoff between police and the two brothers wanted in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, there is another hostage situation at a kosher grocery store near eastern Paris’ Porte de Vincennes.
Though it is not immediately clear if the two hostage situations are connected in any way, they certainly undermine France’s fight against terrorism. The second standoff is said to be orchestrated by an armed man and a woman who are suspected in Thursday’s deadly shooting of a policewoman in the Paris suburb of Montrouge, informed the French Police.
Authorities have released photos of the two — Amedy Coulibaly, 32, and Hayat Boumeddiene, 26 – and they are being sought by the police. Apparently, one ambulance raced away from the standoff at the grocery store in eastern Paris as police officers were blocking off nearby roads. A salesman, who identified himself only as Didier, told France Info Radio that he shook one of the gunman’s hands as they arrived around 8:30 a.m. Friday at a Dammartin-en-Goele printing business — the same place where the Kouachi brothers are believed to be surrounded.
Didier informed the public radio station that he first thought the man, who was dressed in black and heavily armed, was a police officer. But as he was about to leave the store, one of the gunmen said to him, “Go, we don’t kill civilians.”
Multiple police anti-terror units and the French internal security directorate, known as the DGSI, raced to the scene in eastern Paris, the city’s prosecutor’s office said. After multiple shots were exchanged with the man and woman, hostages were reportedly taken. Police tactical teams have been getting into position at the scene of the standoff.
Even while the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre are being surrounded, the police are trying to end the second standoff. It is reported that officers have been deployed across France to try to intercept the two brothers.
Speaking about the situation, President Francois Hollande said, “France is living through a trial, when we see the worst massacre of this kind in the last 50 years. It shows when a newspaper is attacked that it’s because it’s the expression of liberty itself.”
The suspects in Wednesday’s Charlie Hebdo massacre are still holed up in a printing company in a town northeast of Paris, taking one male employee hostage. So far, both hostage situations remain unresolved.
[Image Credit | CNN Video Grab]