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France Deploys 10,000 Soldiers on the Streets After Terrorist Attacks

Half of the troops will be deployed at 717 Jewish schools, as video emerges of French police operations against the gunmen on Friday, and the hunt for an accomplice continues.
Photo via AP/Remy de la Mauviniere

France is mobilizing 10,000 soldiers to protect potential terrorist targets across the country after three days of attacks that left 17 dead last week.

The troops will be deployed from Tuesday in the largest such operation ever conducted on French soil, said Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking as President Francois Hollande held a crisis cabinet meeting on national security.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said almost half of the troops will be stationed outside France's 717 Jewish schools.


The violence in Paris began last Wednesday when black-masked gunmen armed with automatic weapons killed 10 journalists and two police officers at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Five more died in separate attacks on a police officer and a kosher supermarket in the following days.

More than a million people gathered in Paris on Sunday for an anti-terror unity march that officials said was the largest demonstration in French history. The Ministry of the Interior described the turnout as "unprecedented," and said numbers were so high that an official count would be impossible, according to the Associated Press.

Around 40 heads of state and government from around the world arrived in France for the rally, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu.

French troops patrol the streets of Paris on Sunday.

Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre and fled the capital by car, sparking a massive manhunt that the government said involved 88,000 security personnel, including police, border agents, members of the gendarmerie, and troops. The search eventually concentrated on the Aisne region, northeast of Paris, after the two men were spotted at a gas station in the area on Thursday morning.

The following day they exchanged fire with police and holed up in the facilities of the Création Tendance Découverte (CTD) print works in an industrial zone of Dammartin-en-Goele, a commune 22 miles north of Paris.


Massive crowds gather at Paris unity rally to honor 'Charlie Hebdo' victims. Read more here.

On Friday afternoon, Amedy Coulibaly murdered four people and took several hostages at a Hypercacher kosher supermarket in the southeastern Parisian suburb of Vincennes. Coulibaly also shot dead policewoman Clarissa Jean-Philippe in a separate incident in Montrouge, Paris the day before.

Police killed all three men on Friday. The Kouachi brothers were gunned down when they emerged from the CTD building firing their weapons and Coulibaly died when police stormed the Hypercacher store shortly afterwards.

Footage of Friday's police operations in Dammartin and Paris, released by the French Ministry of the Interior.

Cherif Kouachi told a French news channel that he had received instructions from al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Coulabily claimed to have "synchronized" his actions with the two brothers, but said he was working directly for the Islamic State, an armed extremist group that controls areas in Iraq and Syria.

A video emerged on Sunday appearing to show Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, and again claiming to have planned the attacks with the Kouachis. The Islamic State and al Qaeda are rivals, however, and have clashed in Syria on numerous occasions.

Video claims to show gunman in Paris terror attack pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Read more here.

Security forces are still hunting for Coulibaly's partner and suspected accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today that Boumeddiene was in Istanbul five days before the Paris attacks, before crossing the border into Syria on January 8 — the same day that Coulibaly killed Jean-Philippe in Montrouge.

Hayat Boumeddiene: Epochal transformation from French party girl to jihadi warrior — Borzou Daragahi (@borzou)January 11, 2015

Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck