French President Francois Hollande urged the people of the country to be united in the face of a spate of terror attacks and also to stay vigilant.
“I call upon all of you to be united. This is our best weapon,” Hollande said in an address to the nation following the conclusion of the double hostage crises in the country Friday, according to a report in The Connexion.
The French president urged the people to stand together “to carry the values of democracy, liberty and pluralism”, but warned, “France has not seen the last of such threats. I want to call on the French for vigilance, unity and mobilisation.”
At least seven people, including three gunmen, were killed Friday after security forces brought to an end two tense hostage dramas in separate locations in the French capital of Paris.
Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers wanted in Wednesday’s attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, that claimed 12 lives, were killed in a printing company’s office at Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris.
Another gunman, linked to Thursday’s fatal shooting of a policewoman in Montrouge, a densely populated area of Paris, was killed at a Jewish grocery store at Porte de Vincennes in southern Paris. Four hostages also died in the attack.
A 26-year-old woman wanted in connection with the incident at Montrouge was reported to be on the run.
Hollande denounced the attack on the Jewish grocery store in Paris as an anti-Semitic act, and said: “We must demonstrate our determination to fight anything that might divide us, to be implacable against racism and anti-Semitism.”
He said: “These fanatics… have nothing to do with Islam”, adding, “We carry an ideal greater than ourselves and we should be able to defend it wherever it is threatened.”
The French president saluted the “courage, bravery, the efficiency of gendarmes and police officers and all those who participated in the operations”.
“I want to tell them that we are proud, proud of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, European Union (EU) President Donald Tusk have all agreed to join the “Unity March” in Paris Sunday.
US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, said: “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.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have been directly impacted. We grieve with you,” he said.
“In the streets of Paris, the world has seen once again what terrorists stand for. They have nothing to offer but hatred and suffering,” Obama noted, adding, “We stand for freedom, hope and the dignity of all human beings.”