World leaders converge on Paris, with crowd of thousands
PARIS (AP) -- Leaders from dozens of countries have arrived at the French presidential palace in an extraordinary display of global unity, while tens of thousands of people crammed into Paris' Republique square to honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed.
Even hardened rivals such as the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, and top representatives from Ukraine and Russia, were gathered together in the giant formal rooms of the Elysee, along with French President Francois Hollande.
"Paris is the capital of the world today," Hollande said, a few minutes before welcoming the leaders.
The three days of terror began Wednesday when a pair of masked gunmen stormed the newsroom of the satirical newspaper, killing 12 people. Later a separate gunman killed a policewoman on the outskirts of Paris and four hostages at a kosher grocery.
The aftermath of the attacks remained raw, with posthumous video emerging from one of the gunmen pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and detailing how the attacks were going to unfold. A new shooting was linked to the man, who was killed along with the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacres in nearly simultaneous raids by security forces.
Unity against extremism was the rallying cry for the participants, including the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, who will be protected by an unparalleled level of security. Participants climbed upon enormous statue of Marianne, the woman who symbolizes France, waving French flags.
"Today, Paris is the capital of the world," French President Francois Hollande said as he awaited leaders from more than two dozen countries. "Our entire country will rise up toward something better."
Rallies were also planned in London, Madrid and New York - all attacked by al-Qaida-linked extremists - as well as Cairo, Sydney, Stockholm, Tokyo and elsewhere.
"We are all Charlie, we are all police, we are all Jews of France," Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared on Saturday, referring to the victims of the attacks that included employees at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, shoppers at a kosher grocery and three police officers.
The three days of terror began Wednesday when a pair of masked gunmen stormed the newsroom of the satirical newspaper, killing 12 people. Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen said it directed the attack to avenge the honor of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the weekly's satire. On Thursday, a separate gunman killed a policewoman on the outskirts of Paris and on Friday, the attackers converged.
With the brothers who stormed Charlie Hebdo holed up in a printing plant near Charles de Gaulle airport, the third gunman seized hostages inside a kosher market. It all ended at dusk Friday with near-simultaneous raids at the printing plant and the market that left all three gunmen dead. Four hostages at the market were also killed.
Five people who were held in connection with the attacks were freed late Saturday, leaving no one in custody, according to the Paris prosecutor's office. The widow of the one the men is still being sought and was last traced near the Turkey-Syrian border.
Early Sunday, police in Germany detained two men suspected of an arson attack against a newspaper that republished the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. No one was injured in that attack.
"The terrorists want two things: they want to scare us and they want to divide us. We must do the opposite. We must stand up and we must stay united," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told iTele Sunday.
It was France's deadliest terrorist attack in decades, and the country remains on high alert while investigators determine whether the attackers were part of a larger extremist network. More than 5,500 police and soldiers were being deployed on Sunday across France, about half of them to protect the march. The others were guarding synagogues, mosques, schools and other sites around France.
"I hope that we will again be able to say we are happy to be Jews in France," said Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi in France, who planned to attend the rally.
"I hope that at the end of the day everyone is united. Everyone, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists," added Zakaria Moumni, who was at Republique early Sunday. "We are humans first of all. And nobody deserves to be murdered like that. Nobody."
Christophe Crepin, spokesman for UNSA police union, said this would not mark an end for French police.
"I think we have turned a page, a bit like before Sept. 11 and after Sept. 11," he said.
At an international conference in India, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the world stood with the people of France.
"And we stand together not just in anger and in outrage, but in solidarity and commitment to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause that extremists fear so much and that has always united our countries: freedom," Kerry said.
Posthumous video emerged Sunday of the gunman at the kosher market, Amedy Coulibaly, who prosecutors said was newly linked by ballistics tests to a third shooting - the Wednesday attack on a jogger that left the 32-year-old man gravely injured. In the video, Coulibaly speaks fluent French and broken Arabic, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and detailing the terror operation he said was about to unfold.
The Kouachi brothers claimed the attacks were planned and financed by al-Qaida in Yemen.
Oleg Cetinic and Elaine Ganley contributed from Paris. Aaron Heller contributed from Jerusalem.