After a week of harrowing terrorist attacks in France, President Obama encouraged the country to stay strong.
"The French government continues to face the threat of terrorism and has to remain vigilant," the president said in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday, at the start of a scheduled speech about higher education.
In a televised statement Friday, French President François Hollande also called for his people to remain vigilant in the face of terrorist threats.
"I call you to unity. It's our best weapon," Hollande said. "We must demonstrate our determination against all that can divide us, and be relentless against racism and anti-Semitism."
Earlier Friday, French police and counterterrorism units raided two sites near Paris where gunmen were holding hostages. The three hostage-takers were killed in the raids. Four hostages at one location died in the ordeal, Hollande confirmed Friday afternoon.
At the first site, a large print factory north of Paris, the hostage-takers were the two suspects in Wednesday's deadly shooting at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper. Reports indicated multiple shots and explosions as counterterrorism forces stormed the building where the suspects were hiding. French police officials say the two suspects were killed in the raid, and the only hostage held was freed and is safe.
French police had been looking for the suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, since the Wednesday attack at Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people. According to French police, who established contact with the brothers before the raid, the two said they want to die as martyrs.
At the second site, in eastern Paris, one man held hostages in a kosher grocery store. Amedy Coulibaly, who is a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Paris policewoman on Wednesday, was killed in a police raid on the store. Fifteen hostages escaped, AP reports, but four hostages were killed in the store before the raid.
Police are still searching for Hayet Boumddiene, Coulibaly's associate in the Wednesday police shooting.
The Kouachi brothers, according to The New York Times, have long been on the antiterrorism radar in France. According to The Times, the U.S. has identified them as known or suspected terrorists, and they are on the country's "no-fly" list. Cherif, a suspect at the print factory, was arrested in France in 2005 for attempting to join jihadis in Iraq to fight U.S. and coalition forces there.
U.S. national security officials have been in contact with their French counterparts on a "minute-by-minute" basis since the attacks, according to pool reports.
"In the streets of Paris, the world has seen once again what terrorists stand for," Obama said Friday afternoon. "They have nothing to offer but hatred and human 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 and that spirit will endure forever, long after the scourge of terrorism is banished from this world."
This story has been updated with more information.
Brian Resnick and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this article
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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