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Charlie Hebdo: Jihadis meet a bloody end following hostages horror

By Lesley Houston

French President Francois Hollande has called on the country to "remain vigilant" as the hostage crisis which started at the Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre came to a bloody end with the loss of at least 20 lives.

Three terrorists were among those killed yesterday - including brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi -who were shot after they emerged from a bolthole firing at police where they kept a print worker hostage. He escaped unharmed.

A third terrorist, 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly with links to Cherif Kouachi, had detained around 20 hostages at a Jewish supermarket yesterday morning in which four were killed before police stormed the building as Coulibaly said evening prayers.

He was killed in the shootout, although questions remained last night about the whereabouts of at least one suspect connected to the supermarket siege.

Coulibaly's girlfriend accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene (26), was believed to be on the run last night. She is also thought to be involved in the execution of a female police officer south of Paris on Thursday morning - the third police fatality since the slaughters began, following the death of two officers responding to the Charlie Hebdo shooting on Wednesday.

It was also reported that another male gunman had managed to escape from the kosher store.

As France came to terms with a tragedy that rocked the nation, its President Mr Hollande said in an address: "I call you all to be vigilant, to remain united and remain mobilised. Vigilance is something the state must demonstrate.

"I ask you to remain united -it's our best weapon. It shows we are determined to fight against anything that can divide us.

"Several leaders have let me know that they will be here for the big gathering that is taking place on Sunday. I will be with them, and I hope all the French people will stand on Sunday, to defend the values of democracy, freedom, pluralism, which we are so attached to, and Europe represents, which will come out even stronger."

A number of international dignitaries, including David Cameron, are expected to arrive in Paris for tomorrow's unity rally.

Dramatic footage from the Kouachis' hideaway in Dammartin-en-Goele, a town around 25 miles north of Paris, and the Hyper Cacher kosher store in Porte de Vincennes, in the east of the capital, played out on television screens shortly before 5pm French time.

In the first rescue attempt, in Dammartin, flashes of light accompanied rapid gunfire for 10 seconds.

Minutes before the explosions, balaclava-clad officers moved towards the building. Less than 15 minutes later, six explosions were heard at the kosher supermarket.

Ambulances and fire engines rushed to the scene in Paris following a rapid exchange of gunfire. In what would become one of the most poignant images of the three-day massacre, grief-stricken hostages, including children, were seen huddled together and being led quickly to safety. Another was carried in a fireman's lift following the four-and-a-half-hour ordeal.

Four hostages were killed before the police stormed the building as Coulibaly prayed - officers secretly listening in to the situation after the hostage-taker apparently failed to hang up properly after making demands by telephone to specialist officers. The body of another gunman was reported to have been found inside the building.

The Kouachis stole a Peugeot earlier yesterday in the town of Montagny Sainte Felicite, triggering a car chase during which gunfire was reported.

Before they were killed, they were said to have declared they wanted to die "as martyrs".

A salesman told how he inadvertently shook the hand of one of the terrorists when he arrived for a meeting with the owner of the printing firm yesterday morning, whose name he gave as Michel.

The witness, named as Didier, said encountered a "heavily armed" man dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest. He said: "I encountered a terrorist and shook his hand. (The armed man) said to me 'I am the police. Go, we do not kill civilians'. I have been very lucky."

Belfast Telegraph


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