After three days of terror in France, eye-witness testimony of the difficult events have started to emerge – including a chilling depiction of the hostage situation inside a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.
Marie, a Jewish customer who had been one of the hostages inside the Kosher supermarket, described the first moments of the attack when AMedy Coulibaly arrived at the supermarket.
“He came in wearing a bullet-proof vest. He had two Kalashnikov rifles, a gun and a knife. He shot two people at the entrance. One of the customers tried to take one of his weapons, but was unable to fire. (Coulibaly) shot him in the head immediately,” said Marie.
Marie, who was interviewed by the BFMTV TV channel, described a horrifying scene inside the supermarket. She said one female victim lay on the ground and died during the wait for police to arrive at the scene.
According to Marie, one of the supermarket workers was able to hide and direct police forces on how to enter the site while another individual was able to flee to an elevator, carrying the keys to the supermarket with him, which he took to the top floor of the market where he left the building using an emergency exit. He was then able to give the keys to police.
Despite the scarring scenes she witnessed, Marie says she will not let the attack frighten her. “I have no intention of staying locked up at home and or being scared,” said Marie after the attack.
Michelle, another hostage taken during the supermarket attack, described how the attack started. “I stood at the counter in order to pay and I heard a loud noise, like a firework. I was not suspicious until I saw an armed black man and I immediately understood what was going on,” described Michelle.Michelle began to look for a place where he and his son could hide. “I grabbed (my son) by the collar and pulled him towards the back of the store. With some other shoppers, we went downstairs to the basement and entered one of two freezers. The door did not lock from the inside and we were very scared. The terrorist sent one of the workers to tell us to come upstairs and said that if we didn’t come there would be ‘a massacre.'”
At first, Michelle refused to leave the freezer and decided to stay with his son in the basement of the store. “I said we would wait. Ten minutes later, she returned again with the same message, and that time I decided we would go.”
Michelle and the other hostages who went back upstairs into the supermarket’s main area, where the attacker was holding up employees and other shoppers, were greeted with a horrifying site.
“We went upstairs and saw a dead man lying in a pool of blood,” Michelle said.
Despite the shock, Michelle was able to keep calm and call the police.
“The terrorist wandered around the shelves with a weapon and ammunition in both of his hands and said that death was a reward for him. All of a sudden he began to pray and the police heard everything. A few seconds later we saw the curtain open and we realized that it was the end. We went down to the floor, there was a horrible noise and the terrorist was shot,” described Michelle.
Another shopper, Rudi Haddad, told Israel’s Channel 2 news he had been standing near the back of the store when the terrorist entered. Haddad had worked in the store in the past and knew right away that he could flee to the basement for safety. He ran down to the basement along with his friend and another shopper who was holding her baby and they too entered one of the two refrigerators in the store. “A woman came down and said that the terrorist threatened to kill everyone if we didn’t come up,” Haddad told Channel 2.
Affirming Michelle’s account, Haddad said that “three or four people went up but we stayed down. Later they told us that the terrorist asked if there were any other people left downstairs and someone told him there weren’t. Those who went up saved us.”
When asked if he would stay in France after the attack, Haddad said he would consider leaving. “If I stay, I’ll have to go shopping with a gun,” Haddad said.
Three days of terror ended on Friday in France and the republic counted 17 murdered, three killed attackers and one suspected attacker, Coulibaly’s wife, still on the loose, considered armed and dangerous.
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who carried out the attack on Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, were killed after a daylong standoff with police on Friday at a printing house in Dammartin-en-Goele near Charles de Gaulle Airport where the two brothers had held a hostage.
Also on Friday, Coulibaly was killed by police after he killed four hostages at a Kosher supermarket in suburban Paris. Police eventually announced that it was Coulibaly who was behind another attack on Thursday in which a female officer was killed and several other individuals were wounded.
The Kosher supermarket is located in the 12th district of Paris Porte de Vincennes which is known to have a large Jewish community.