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Paris attacks: Young Muslim hailed as hero for saving lives of six hostages

By Heather Saul

A young Muslim man who hid Jewish supermarket hostages as they sought refuge from killer Amedy Coulibaly has been hailed a hero.

Quick-thinking Lassana Bathily, originally from Mali in west Africa, is said to have shepherded terrified customers to safety in a walk-in freezer as the Islamic gunman took hold of the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, Paris, on Friday.

Coulibaly executed four of the 19 hostages before police stormed the building and ended the terror, killing the gunman as he attempted to flee.

Mr Bathily has been praised for his actions since his role in helping customers.

He explained: "When they ran down, I opened the freezer.

"There are several people who came to me. I turned off the light, I turned off the freezer. I put them in, I closed the door, I told them to stay calm."

Reports state Mr Bathily (24) helped lead six people to safety.

An uncle of one of the hostages saved by Mr Bathily said Johan Dorre and others were able to communicate with relatives from the freezer.

"Johan and the others were terrified that they would be discovered by the terrorists and were forced to huddle together like frightened animals to avoid hypothermia."

At first French police thought Bathily was one of the terrorists after he escaped through a service lift.

Several people called for Mr Bathily to be recognised for his actions as details of the episode emerged.

Earlier, a businessman taken hostage by the Charlie Hebdo killers described how he kept a colleague from their clutches in an act of heroism which helped police end the siege.

Michel Catalano told of his ordeal after Cherif and Said Kouachi turned his printing works into the scene of their bloody last stand after three days on the run.

He got an employee to hide in the back of the building when he saw the gunmen arriving from the window. Unknown to the brothers, the man, named as Lilian Lepere, relayed secret information to police while hiding before they stormed the industrial site. The fugitives were killed during the assault.

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