France Hunts for Charlie Hebdo Gunman's Girlfriend; Offers Magazine 'Honorary Citizen,' 1 Million Euros

Charlie Hebdo killings
French gendarmes stand guard as school children board a bus as they are evacuated near the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. |

Paris has offered an "honorary citizen" to the Charlie Hebdo magazine even as French forces were hunting for the girlfriend of one of the gunmen on Saturday, the day after they managed to kill three hostage takers, including two suspects involved in Wednesday's massacre supposedly to take revenge for mocking Prophet Mohammad.

The French government is granting the satirical weekly one million euros, or $1.18 million, to help it run "next week and the week after that and the week after that," Reuters quoted Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin as saying.

Honorary citizenship of the capital is given rarely but mostly to "distinguished great resistance fighters against dictatorship and barbarism," Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was quoted as saying.

Terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were killed.

"By choosing to grant it to Charlie Hebdo, Paris - our city - shows a heroic newspaper the respect due to heroes," Hidalgo told the city council.

Meanwhile, authorities on Saturday were frantically pursuing Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who died Friday after security forces stormed a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris where he had taken shoppers hostage and killed four of the hostages, according to Agence France Presse.

Boumeddiene, who managed to escape after the end of the hostage crisis, was also said to be "armed and dangerous."

French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting with key ministers Saturday, the day after police ended two hostage standoffs, one of which involved the two alleged gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi.

The two were engaged in a standoff just outside Paris and had taken a woman hostage before being killed by officials. The brothers had previously told authorities that they wanted to "die as martyrs" for Islam. The hostage was released and reported safe by officials.

The brothers and Coulibaly were known to the intelligence agencies. It's unclear whether the four suspects, including Boumeddiene, worked in tandem to carry out the attacks.

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

The Kouachi brothers were supposedly upset by political cartoons and depictions of the prophet Muhammad, which is forbidden in Islam.

Before his death, Cherif Kouachi told French channel BFM-TV on phone that he was financed by al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen, an international recruiter who was killed in September 2011 in a drone strike.

"I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by Al Qaeda of Yemen. I went over there and it was Anwar al Awlaki who financed me," he said.

Coulibaly also separately called BFM-TV, and said he wanted to defend Palestinians and target Jews. He also said he is linked to Islamic State, or ISIS, and alleged he had jointly planned the attacks with the Kouachi brothers.

All the four suspects were part of the same Islamist cell in northern Paris, according to police.

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In World