France is placing hundreds of soldiers throughout Paris and elsewhere after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, French Interior Minister says all necessary measures are being taken to secure the country
The two brothers who carried out the attacks in Paris last week were shot and killed after opening fire on police 35 kilometres outside the capital. Shortly afterwards, a third gunman was killed by police in a supermarket where he was holding hostages, four of whom he had killed.
The two men carried out an attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7. The men forced their way into the magazine offices armed with assault rifles, killing editor Stephane Charbonnier, a police guard and nine other staff members. Following the murders, the culprits then fled via a waiting vehicle, killing another police officer in the process.
Soon after a third man shot and killed a police officer and injured another civilian in a Parisian suburb before taking several hostages in a supermarket. This attack was originally believed to be separate from the first, but police now believe that there may be a connection.
Police have said that the two brothers had a rocket launcher ready to fire, and similarly, the supermarket in Paris had been rigged with explosives. One of the brothers, Cherif Kouachi, called a French TV news network and told them he was acting on behalf of the Yemen branch of al-Qaeda, having been financed by its leader before he was killed in a drone strike. The same group released a message last week praising the attack but did not claim responsibility.
Police are now hunting for any accomplices of the three gunmen and have taken over 16 people believed to be connected with the attacks into custody. Since the end of the siege, over 500 troops have been deployed throughout Paris. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the necessary measures needed to protect the country are being taken, and that France would remain on high alert for the next few weeks.
Over 210, 000 people across France have attended silent marches to commemorate and remember last week’s victims, many of them holding signs saying ‘Je suis Charlie’.
This culminated in a unity march of nearly 4 million people on Jan. 11, which was attended by world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoflu, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that France would be “firm and relentless in the face of the enemies of liberty”, urging people to “assume their responsibilities”.
This assault comes at a critical moment in Western Europe, when countries like France, Germany and England are witnessing the steady growth of anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiments, such as the recently popular Pegida movement which campaigns against the “Islamisation” of Europe.
The radical actions of individual extremists continue to fuel the fire and may ultimately prove problematic for non-radicalized Muslims.
Both political and religious leaders across Europe have spoken out against such movements but recent events continue to bring people out onto the streets. Mainstream Muslim organisations in the UK and France have condemned the killings and violence, saying that terrorism is an affront to Islam.