3RD UPDATE, adds Hollande and Obama remarks: The dramatic, and deadly, hostage situations in France played out live on TV as the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings and, mere minutes later, a gunman who took hostages in a Paris grocery were killed after French police and special forces launched operations to break the armed sieges. Initial reports also indicate that at least four hostages have been killed at the Paris grocery, according to French police.
On what has been a breathless day for news coverage, with conflicting reports emerging — and continuing to emerge — from both scenes, special units were captured by international news crews moving in on the two hostage situations. After a day of increasing tension, the assaults were over within minutes of each other, indicating a coordinated approach by French forces.
French President Francois Hollande addressed the nation this evening at just before 8 PM local France time. He praised the special forces teams which acted to take down the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting as well as another man who had taken hostages in the south of Paris. But, he said, “Even if France has stood up, the threats are not over.”
The “entire world” has pledged its solidarity with France including President Barack Obama, who praised France’s efforts in remarks before a scheduled speech in Tennessee. In France, there is a unity rally planned for Sunday with Hollande expected to be surrounded by the Prime Ministers of Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain (David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Matteo Renzi, and Mariano Rajoy). The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, also tweeted that he would be there on Sunday.
Hollande added this evening, “On Sunday I will be with them and I call on all French men and women to stand up together.” The country will come out of this “stronger,” he said before signing off with “Vive la république, vive la France.”
Media coverage had been dominated most of Friday by the ongoing situation in which the Paris shooting tragedy developed into multiple hostage situations, setting off a series of ominous developments more commonly found on episodes of 24 or Homeland. Gunshots and an explosion were heard at one of them around 5 PM local and several explosions were reported live at the other — all captured on TV screens worldwide.
Earlier in the day, a nationwide manhunt found the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack holed up allegedly with a hostage in a printing warehouse. BBC News, Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera English and most international news outlets were wall-to-wall with their live coverage. All the nets have had their own boots on the ground with reporters in place to cover the breaking news. That ended up being on two fronts, afterup to six people were said to have been taken hostage in a grocery in Paris by at least one gunman. The latter is believed to be connected to the fatal shooting of a female Paris police officer on Thursday.
As the double hostage crisis unfolded, all of the 24-hour news channels in France mobilized in Danmartin-en-Goel and at the Porte de Vincennes in the south east of Paris. From LCI to iTélé, BFM TV and Euronews, cameras were trained on the scenes of the hostage situations. As for the networks, TF1 broke into its regular schedule earlier today and France 2 is providing continuous coverage.
In the U.S., all the broadcast networks cut into their East Coast morning shows as the situation took this new turn. With Today co-host Savannah Guthrie anchoring from NYC, NBC cut in again at 7 AM PT with a Special Report update on the hostage-taking. All the cable news networks continued their wall-to-wall coverage with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper coming on at 6 AM ET to host from Paris itself. Fox News’ London-based correspondent Amy Kellogg was reporting live from the hostage standoff at the Kosher supermarket in Paris while the cabler’s Greg Palkot was reporting other developments from France. NBC’s Bill Neely did double duty on both the main network and MSNBC.
Viewers around the world were witnessing French special forces surround the two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who are believed to have been responsible for the murder of 12 people at and around satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s headquarters in Paris on Wednesday. Around 8.02 AM PT, the sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard as it appeared that special forces were preparing an assault on the printing warehouse.
ABC and CBS both just cut in before 8 AM PT with Special Reports from France of the gun fire near the hostage area. NBC broke in with news of the shots being fired neared the hostage area at 8:02 AM PT.
Tensions have been very high with false alarms of suspicious activity springing up from the Trocadéro in Paris’ 16th arrondissement to the city of Rouen. Also in Paris, the police asked that all shops on the Rue des Rosiers in the 4th arrondissement close up immediately this afternoon. The Rue des Rosiers is the center of the Jewish quarter in the Marais and was the site of a deadly 1982 bombing and shooting attack at the Jo Goldenberg restaurant.
The French film industry body, ARP, which organized a delegation to Paris’ main rally Wednesday night, today urged its membership and others in the business to subscribe to Charlie Hebdo. It was confirmed yesterday that next week’s edition will publish on Wednesday and rather than the typical 45,000 copies printed, there will be 1 million issues.