Hostage Sieges End In France, With Seven People Dead
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
A dramatic day in Paris - two sieges, some hostages freed, but four others killed. It was the culmination of a security crisis that began with the killing of 12 people at the offices of a French satirical newspaper on Wednesday. French President Francois Hollande spoke to the nation after nightfall in Paris, asking citizens to join him in the streets for a solidarity march this Sunday. Here he is as heard on the BBC today through an interpreter.
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PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Through interpreter) I call all the French people to stand on Sunday, get together and carry these values of democracy, of freedom, of pluralism. Long live Republic - the Republic - long live France.
SIEGEL: World leaders have also pledged support for France. Many are traveling to Paris to be there for Sunday's march. For the latest details on the attacks that embroiled France today, we go to reporter Lauren Frayer in Paris. And, Lauren, police say the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings died in a village northeast of the city. Tell us what happened there.
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: That's right, Robert. After two days on the run, these brothers - the Kouachi brothers - stole a car and holed themselves up at a printing office in a small village northeast of Paris. This is near Charles de Gaulle Airport. It's a verdant farming area and that green area was transformed into France's biggest domestic security operation in decades, with hundreds of police, military, helicopters. They were there for about eight hours and after that we heard explosions, gunfire. We saw smoke rising from the building, flashes of light and black clad figures scaling the walls. We know now that those were French security forces and that the two brothers were killed.
SIEGEL: Now, as all this was happening, there was - simultaneously almost - another siege across town. Tell us about that.
FRAYER: Well, a gunman said to be a friend or possible associate of the Kouachi brothers burst into a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris and took hostages. Now, the hostages were believed to be regular shoppers in the market. This was a Jewish market on a Friday afternoon, so before the start of the Jewish Sabbath. It's unclear how many hostages he took. Initially, it was said to be about five people and now we're hearing upwards of perhaps 15 people. French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that four of those hostages died along with the gunman. And the end of that siege was similarly dramatic - explosions, gunfire. SWAT team members then escorted several civilians to safety, including at least one child. We watched live video of all this taking place. One person slung over the shoulder of a riot police officer running out of the building.
SIEGEL: And then the two raids took place at just about the same time. Lauren, you've been in Paris watching all this unfold. How would you describe the mood of the city?
FRAYER: Well, Robert, I think that people are hoping that they can sort of collectively breathe a sigh of relief. This is after three days of terror attacks, hostage takings, evacuations, alerts across the French capital and, finally, people are hoping that this may be over. But as the smoke quite literally clears, I think French citizens will be waking up to a different kind of France with serious new challenges ahead. In the short term, one suspect is still believed to be at large. That's a woman that authorities say is the girlfriend of the gunman who was killed after taking hostages at the kosher supermarket. On Sunday, we have security meetings with world leaders here in Paris and this giant march that's planned. In the long term, there are likely to be serious concerns among French Jews, who were targeted in one of these attacks. Also among advocates of free speech, we saw journalists targeted in Wednesday's shootings, and Muslims fearing any kind of backlash here after all of this.
SIEGEL: Lauren, thanks for your reporting.
FRAYER: You're welcome. Thank you.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Lauren Frayer in Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.