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Conflicting reports on fatalities at grocery; synagogues and stores in area evacuated

There are conflicting reports about fatalities at the grocery store, Hypercacher Alimentation Générale. Several media outlets have been reporting two fatalities. Others say there are no confirmed deaths. Conflicting reports suggest five, six or more hostages being held.

Reports of another incident near the Eiffel Tower are now being discounted.

It is increasingly clear that Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman at the grocery, is linked to the brothers who killed 12 at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, and that he is refusing to free his hostages so long as the brothers are surrounded by police.

Army Radio is reporting synagogues and stores in the area of the market are being closed down and evacuated.

A photo taken on January 9, 2015 shows members of the French police forces taking position by the kosher grocery store in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, where a gunman opened fire at the kosher grocery store and took at least five people hostage, sources told AFP. (Photo credit: AFP / ERIC FEFERBERG)
A photo taken on January 9, 2015 shows members of the French police forces taking position by the kosher grocery store in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, where a gunman opened fire at the kosher grocery store and took at least five people hostage, sources told AFP. (Photo credit: AFP / ERIC FEFERBERG)

This is the latest AP summary:

Terrorists linked to each other seized hostages at two locations around Paris on Friday, facing off against hundreds of French security forces as the city shut down a famed Jewish neighborhood and scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks.

France has been high alert for more attacks since the country’s worst terror attack in decades — the massacre Wednesday in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

The two sets of hostage-takers apparently know each other, said a police official who was not authorized to discuss the rapidly developing situations with the media.

The Paris mayor’s office immediately announced the closure of all shops along Rosiers Street in the city’s famed Marais neighborhood in the heart of the tourist district. Hours before the Jewish Sabbath, the street is usually crowded with shoppers — French Jews and tourists alike. The street is also only a kilometer (.06 miles) away from Charlie Hebdo’s offices.

Two brothers linked to al-Qaida grabbed a hostage early Friday and were cornered by police inside a printing house in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. They are believed responsible for the attack that decimated Charlie Hebdo’s staff and left two police officers dead.

In addition, the police official said a gunman holding at least five hostages Friday inside a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris is believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday. Authorities released a photo of him and a female accomplice but were unclear about her whereabouts.

At the store near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood, the gunman burst in with gunfire just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring “You know who I am,” the official recounted.

Police SWAT squads descended on the area and France’s top security official rushed from to the scene, as he did the day before when the policewoman was killed. The attack came before sundown when the store would have been crowded with shoppers.

Paris police had released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said is the market gunman’s accomplice. Police said 100 students were under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.

Hours before and 40 kilometers (25 miles) away, a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.

“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.

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