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Four hostages, three Charlie Hebdo suspects killed; al-Qaida claims responsibility

A statement from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack by the Kouachi brothers.

By JC Finley and Danielle Haynes
Four hostages, three Charlie Hebdo suspects killed; al-Qaida claims responsibility
The Kouachi brothers, suspected in the Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks, died Friday in a standoff with police. Photo courtesy Prefecture de Police (French Police)

PARIS, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Two hostage situations came to a deadly end around Paris on Friday, with two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre killed in a standoff with police, as miles away four hostages were slain in a related attack on a market.

"The two simultaneous hostage-takings in France were linked, with suspected gunmen in each situation connected through an earlier attempt to break a convicted terrorist out of jail," Paris' public prosecutor told ABC News.

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French President Francoise Hollande, in televised remarks, said four people died at the market in Porte de Vincennes, as well as the hostage-taker.

Police union spokesman Pascal Disand confirmed the hostage-taker was Amedi Coulibaly, 32, the man suspected of killing a Paris policewoman Thursday morning, one day after the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

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Coulibaly, 32, and Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, were named in the point-blank shooting of the officer. Boumeddiene had not been found Friday.

The situation at the market came to a head about the same time as a raid at a printworks building in the industrial section in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, located about 22 miles northeast of Paris.

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Two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, suspected of killing 12 in the attack on the satirical magazine, were killed there as police stormed the building where the men had holed up with a hostage.

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Othis Mayor Bernard Corneille told CNN the two brothers were killed in the police raid. The hostage was uninjured.

BFM TV reported that Coulibaly called police and said he timed his attack at the market with the hostage situation in Dammartin-en-Goele. He said he was working on behalf of the Islamic State.

BFM TV reported Cherif Kouachi also contacted them, saying he belonged to al-Qaida in Yemen.

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A statement from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack by the Kouachi brothers.

"The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet," the statement, provided to The Intercept, said. "The target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations."

The statement said the attacks came about as a warning from former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who "warned the West about the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslims' sanctities."

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"Sheikh Osama said in his message to the West: 'If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions,'" the statement continued.

Hollande called the kosher market standoff an "appalling anti-Semitic act" and praised the efforts of law enforcement.

He said he saluted the "courage, flair, and efficacy of the gendarmes, the policemen, everyone who took part. I am proud of them," adding that France "has not finished with these threats. I call for vigilance, unity and mobilization."

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls emphasized that the country is not at war with Islam in light of the attacks.

"We are in a war against terrorism. We are not in a war against religion, against a civilization," he said.

Meanwhile, during an appearance at a community college in Tennessee, U.S. President Barack Obama said he has been in contact with the French government about the attacks.

"It's important for us to understand -- France is our oldest ally. I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow," Obama said. "In the streets of Paris, the world has seen once again what terrorists stand for.

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"They have nothing to offer but hatred and suffering. And we stand for freedom and hope and the dignity of all human beings. And that's what the city of Paris represents to the world."

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