The suspect was armed with two guns, 'Reuters' quoted a police source as saying. Reports said that one person was wounded in the attack in the eastern part of the French capital, as SWAT teams surrounded the area. French President ordered the country’s top security official to the scene, an official in the presidency told the 'Associated Press'.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the gunman, named by police as 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly, is refusing to release any of the hostages until the Kouachi brothers, the presumed perpetrators of the 'Charlie Hebdo' massacre, are allowed to flee the police siege north of Paris.
Kosher restaurants were closing across Paris and schools in the area were on lockdown.
Jewish schools in Paris close down
The supermarket is located just 800 meters from the ORT Daniel Mayer High School in Montreuil. The siege started at 1 pm local time as many students were leaving the school to go home for Shabbat. The Jewish school, which usually shuts at 2.30pm on Fridays, closed as soon as staff learned of the crisis. “People are terrified,” said Elio Lumbroso, ORT Daniel Mayer’s Educational Development Manager, who was among staff still at the school looking after a dozen students who were still waiting to be collected by their parents. “We had three police officers stationed outside the school after the Charlie Hebdo attack – they all got into a car and left to attend the kosher supermarket.”
The situation was made worse by reports that jihadists had entered another Jewish school in Paris. “We have a girl here in tears because she just had a call from her brother who is at the school,” Lumbroso said. “They are evacuating in small groups. It’s terrible, terrible.”
The gunman at the supermarket was suspected of being the same man who killed a policewoman in Montrouge, southern Paris, on Thursday. He is thought to have links to the assailants who stormed satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' a day earlier and suspected to be a member of the same jihadist group as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who on Friday morning were holed up in a factory near Charles de Gaulle airport.
In Thursday's attack, the gunman was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was carrying a pistol and an automatic rifle. He opened fire and killed the trainee policewoman, named as Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 25. A street sweeper was seriously injured in the incident. The shooting is being treated as a "terrorist act" by the French authorities.
Twelve people were killed and many others wounded when masked gunmen stormed the offices 'Charlie Hebdo' on Wednesday and opened fire.
Jewish sites have previously been targets for terrorist attacks in France. In 2012, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. The gunman, a 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent said he attacked the school because "the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine."