Al-Qaeda’s revenge: Bloody end to French hostage crisis as 20 die

As the French hostage crisis came to a bloody end last night with the loss of 20 lives, al-Qaeda claimed it had directed the attack against the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in Paris "as revenge for the honour" of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

Al-Qaeda’s revenge: Bloody end to French hostage crisis as 20 die

A member of the Yemen branch of the terror group gave a statement to Associated Press which said its leadership “directed the operations and they have chosen their target carefully”.

The al-Qaeda statement said the attack was in line with warnings from the late Osama bin Laden to the West about “the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslim sanctities”.

President François Hollande called on all French residents to “remain vigilant” as the hostage crisis ended in bloodshed.

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

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

Coulibaly’s girlfriend and accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, is believed to be on the run. She is also thought to be involved in the murder 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.

President Hollande described the events as “a tragedy for the nation”. In a televised address, he thanked the security forces for their bravery but added that France still faced threats.

“We have to be vigilant. I also ask you to be united — it’s our best weapon,” he said.

“We must be implacable towards racism,” he added, saying that the supermarket attack was an “appalling anti-Semitic act”.

In an apparent attempt to cool inter-faith tensions in the wake of the killings, President Hollande said: “Those who committed these acts, these fanatics, have nothing to do with the Muslim faith.”

Dramatic footage from the Kouachis’ hideaway in Dammartin -en-Goele, a town around 40km north of Paris, and the Hyper Cacher kosher store in Porte de Vincennes in the east of the capital, played out on television screens yesterday afternoon.

The first rescue attempt, in Dammartin, showed flashes of light accompanying the rapid gunfire in dramatic scenes which lasted for about 10 seconds.

Minutes before the explosions, balaclava-clad officers were seen moving towards the building.

Less than 15 minutes later, six loud and very quick explosions were heard at the kosher supermarket.

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 to safety.

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