Twin Paris standoffs ended in violence and death on Friday, but Paris remains on high alert. Three of the four suspects in the standoffs, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were brothers, and Amedy Coulibaly, a known associate, died during police raids. The fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, is believed to have escaped.
The standoffs occurred almost simultaneously. The Kouachi brothers had been found in a village outside Paris after stealing a woman’s car. The brothers holed up in a print shop, where they held one hostage.
As professional negotiators attempted to communicate with the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibaly attacked a kosher grocery store. Coulibaly said, during an interview conducted shortly before he died in the standoff, that he had coordinated his actions with those of the Kouachi brothers.
Hayat Boumeddiene, reportedly Coulibaly’s wife under a religious ceremony not recognized in France, is being sought in connection to the death of a Parish police officer as well as for her involvement with the attack on the kosher market. She was reported to have fled the scene of the standoff at the kosher market as one of the hostages as the police entered, but recent reports indicate that she may have travelled to Syria before the Paris standoffs took place. French police and security are combing the country to locate her. Boumeddiene is considered to be armed and dangerous.
Cherif and Said Kouachi told Paris news reporters that they wanted to die as martyrs. French authorities linked the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly as being members of the same jihadist group. Explosions reportedly rattled the building where Cherif and Said Kouachi were holding their hostage. Police killed the brothers and the hostage was freed.
At the kosher market, Coulibaly held police at bay, threatening to kill hostages if the police launched an assault against the Kouachi brothers. He killed four hostages before he died at the hands of police. After the standoff was over, Paris police located explosives with detonators. According to French news reports, Coulibaly called his friends from the hostage scene and encouraged them to perform acts of terror, especially against police stations in suburban Paris. Coulibaly had claimed to be funded by ISIS, also referred to as ISIL, which has claimed responsibility for the terror attacks.
The twin Paris standoffs in France have raised concerns throughout Europe and in the United States. The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security have issued bulletins to law enforcement regarding the sophistication of the attacks. The U.S. government also is cautioning travelers that they may become victims of kidnapping or terror attack when traveling abroad.
[Image source: CNN.com]