Several of the hostages being held at a kosher supermarket in Paris, including a child, have been freed, but four hostages are reported dead and four critically wounded, according to French news agency AFP.
Gunfire erupted as police stormed the Jewish store, where at least one armed assailant had seized hostages in Porte de Vincennes on the edge of the city. It was not immediately clear if the casualties occurred during the assault or earlier in the siege, nor whether a second hostage-taker was among the dead.
Amedy Coulibaly, 32, the suspect in the shooting death of a Paris police officer on Thursday in Montrouge, was identified as the captor. Witnesses said shots were fired from an automatic assault rifle and the shooter then retreated into the supermarket. Two hostages reportedly were killed at that time.
Agence France-Press is also reporting that the hostage-taker told French television that he "coordinated" with the Charlie Hebdo attackers who killed twelve Wednesday in the newsroom of the satire magazine's headquarters in Paris.
French security forces also killed the two brothers allegedly responsible for that attack, according to The New York Times. The brothers, Cherif and Saidf Kouachi, had hidden in a printing shop north of Paris with one hostage; the hostage was freed. A third suspect in the attack had already turned himself in to police.
The hostage situation in the supermarket began shortly after noon at Cash Cacher Naouri, a kosher supermarket in Paris’ 12th arrondissement, according to Chlomik Zenouda, vice president of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism.
Witnesses said the shots were fired from an automatic assault rifle. The shooter then retreated into the supermarket, witnesses said.
French police then set up a security perimeter around the supermarket, where eight to 12 people, including at least one child, were being held hostage. After several hours, police stormed the building, and news agencies reported that at least four people were killed.
On Wednesday, twelve people were killed in the attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that frequently published items considered offensive to Islam — and offensive to other religions, politicians and people.
Police sources in France said the hostage takers at the kosher supermarket were in contact with the brothers, according to the Dutch daily Het Parool. Police received threats that the hostages in the kosher shop would be killed if the brothers were harmed, Reuters reported.
Relatives of some of the people being held hostage at the kosher shop arrived at the scene during the standoff but were prevented from approaching, Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who was at the scene, told JTA. Among the hostages were one woman and her daughter, he said. The girl’s father was forced to wait behind the police line for over an hour, he said.
Police locked down schools in the vicinity, and a nearby Jewish school was evacuated, according to Tablet. Authorities in the 4th Arrondissement said that police had ordered shops to close on the rue de Rosiers, a Jewish area where shoppers tend to proliferate in the hours before Shabbat.
The terrorists involved in the various attacks were followers of Djamel Beghal, a charismatic Islamist, Le Monde reported.
Hannah Dreyfus and Helen Chernikoff contributed to this story.