France is battling an Islamist terror onslaught.
An armed man has taken at least 6 people hostage at a kosher grocery store, among them women and children.
Kelly Peretz, an Israeli woman, has just told Army Radio that relatives of hers, a mother and her child, are among the hostages.
French lawmaker Meyer Habib told Army Radio Friday that the hostages include “a family with kids, there shopping for Shabbat.”
Army Radio reported that the gunman told police he will not free the hostages unless the Charlie Hebdo attackers, who are holding one person hostage in eastern Paris in standoff with French police, are allowed to go free.
Police confirmed Friday afternoon that the gunman at the kosher market is the same man who killed a policewoman south of Paris on Thursday, and is linked to the assailants who stormed satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing 12 people. He was named as Amedy Coulibaly, 32. Authorities are looking into suspicions that he took part in the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Coulibaly was seen with Charlie Hebdo suspect Cherif Kouachi in 2010 during an investigation into an attempted prison break in France, police said. He was convicted for his role and was well-known to anti-terrorist police.
Coulibaly is believed to have had a female accomplice in the shooting of the policewoman, according to the authorities, who identified her as Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. They were both described as “armed and dangerous.”
France Info radio reported that the shooter at the kosher market has two AK-47 rifles, and fired for around 20 seconds before taking five hostages. He then phoned police to make contact.
An eyewitness at the kosher market told Le Monde that “people were shopping when a man entered and started firing everywhere.” The witness, who did not identify himself, said he was able to escape but heard more bursts of gunfire behind him. He said he only saw one gunman but a person waiting for him outside in the car told him several assailants were involved.