Four people were killed Friday after a gunman seized a kosher supermarket in Paris and held people captive inside, French prosecutor François Molins confirmed on Friday. At least five hostages were freed after dozens of heavily armed police officers stormed the grocery store, Hyper Cacher.
The alleged shooter, 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly, was killed in the raid. One officer was severely hurt during the assault, three other officers and two civilians were also injured, Molins added. Officials were still seeking Hayat Boumedienne, 26, as of Friday night in Paris. She has been identified as a companion of Coulibaly.
French President François Hollande called the Paris supermarket attack an “atrocious anti-Semitic” act, and urged the people of France to come together. He also thanked the forces who responded to the two hostage situations, saying the authorities showed courage and efficiency.
“I want to tell them that we are proud of them because, when the order was given, they carried out the assaults in the same strike and with the same result. They did it to save human lives, those of the hostages. They did it to neutralize the terrorists,” Hollande said during a news conference.
“I can then assure you that we will come through this trial stronger,” he added. “Long live the republic, long live France.”
The police action at Hyper Cacher came at the same time that authorities struck a second location near the airport, killing Chérif Kouachi and Säid Kouachi, suspects in the Wednesday massacre at the offices of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. NBC News confirmed that the Kouachi brothers were killed by French authorities after an extended standoff in Paris throughout Friday.
Alleged suspect Coulibaly previously was identified by authorities as a close friend of the Kouachi brothers, who had been on the loose since Wednesday’s massacre that claimed the lives of 12 people. Coulibaly and Chérif Kouachi were charged together in 2010 with a plot to spring a terrorist from prison who had been convicted of blowing up a French train facility, NBC News’ Pete Williams confirmed.
Coulibaly and Boumedienne are also suspects in a Thursday killing of a policewoman and the wounding of a street sweeper near a Jewish school in the neighborhood of Montrouge in Paris. It was unclear at the time of those shootings whether they were connected to the Wednesday attack on Charlie Hebdo, or the seize of the supermarket. But by Friday morning, Coulibaly appeared to be a key thread running through all three attacks.
It was unclear how many shoppers were held inside Hyper Cacher, and how many hostages had been freed. The supermarket siege took place during a busy period when Jewish shoppers were preparing for the Sabbath. Coulibaly is believed to have carried an automatic rifle with him.
In the capital Friday, officers were dressed in full riot gear with rifles, sidearms, and shields outside of the supermarket. Rows of police vehicles were parked behind the store, and ambulances were on scene. Authorities ordered all shops to be closed in the area around the supermarket.
The historically Jewish neighborhood where the supermarket siege took place is near the area of the Chez Jo Goldenberg deli terrorist attack on Aug. 9, 1982. There, terrorists threw a grenade into the restaurant and fired machine guns, killing six people and wounding 22.
Michael Sheehan, a former counterterrorism official in the Obama administration, said the best case scenario would be a connection between the two hostage situations.
“The greatest fear for the French is that there could be copycats,” Sheehan said on “Morning Joe.”
Hundreds of people have been under surveillance since Wednesday’s attack. Local residents are attempting to continue with their daily routine to show they won’t be intimidated. A new hashtag meaning, “#JeSuisJuif,” “I am Jewish,” circulated on Twitter.
Services were cancelled Friday at the Grande Synagogue de Paris for the first time since the Nazis occupied France.
Haim Korsia, chief rabbi of France, spoke to NBC News’ Cassandra Vinograd. Korsia called for unity and calm.
“We need brotherhood, and we need to be calm, and we trust in God and our government to protect us,” he said.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo posted on Facebook her condolences to all families affected by the recent incident. “There are no words,” she wrote, according to a translation, “to describe the level of terror that we all feel in the face of these barbaric and inhumane acts that affect each and every one of us.”
President Barack Obama said Friday in Knoxville, Tennessee, that the United States is “hopeful that the immediate threat is now resolved” in Paris. “But,” he added, “the French government continues to face the threat of terrorism and has to stay vigilant. The situation is fluid.”