5:21 pm - Saturday July 19, 2645

France to discuss measures to avert Paris-style attacks

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Key members of the French government will meet on Saturday morning to decide on new measures aimed at thwarting a repeat of the attacks in Paris that culminated in a massacre of 12 people at a satirical newspaper, and a supermarket bloodbath that left four hostages dead.

World leaders have telephoned President Francois Hollande to express their personal sympathies. On Sunday Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron as well as Italy’s Matteo Renzi, and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy have agreed to join in a unity rally in central Paris.

With explosions and gunfire, security forces on Friday ended the three days of terror, killing the two al-Qaeda-linked brothers, who staged a murderous rampage at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, and an accomplice, who seized hostages at a kosher supermarket to try to help the brothers escape.

Twenty people are dead, including the three gunmen. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, the common law wife of the market attacker, is still at large and believed to be armed.

Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said it directed the attack against Charlie Hebdo to avenge the honour of the Prophet Muhammad.

The drama, which played out on live TV and social media, began with the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi methodically massacring 12 people on Wednesday at the Charlie Hebdo offices.

On Thursday, a gunman identified as Amedy Coulibaly by the police, shot a policewoman to death south of Paris and, on Friday he attacked the Paris supermarket killing four hostages and threatening more violence unless the police let the Kouachis go.

It all ended at dusk on Friday with near-simultaneous raids in two locations – a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where the Kouachis were holed up, and the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

As scores of security forces surrounded both sites, booming explosions, heavy gunfire and dense smoke heralded the news that the twin sieges finally had ended.

The three gunmen were dead but the authorities also discovered four dead hostages at the market. Sixteen hostages were freed, one from the printing plant and 15 others from the store.

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