President Francois Hollande vowed Tuesday that France would “never yield” to terror in an emotional tribute to three police officers shot dead in an Islamist killing spree, and new security measures were announced. Home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities, France was shaken to the core by its bloodiest attacks in decades, which began when gunmen opened fire at the Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting in its Paris offices Wednesday and ended in a bloody hostage drama at a Jewish supermarket two days later.
Seventeen people, including journalists, policemen, a policewoman, Muslims and Jews lost their lives.
The supermarket killer, Amedy Coulibaly, and the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi, were killed in quick succession in two police blitzes Friday.
In an historic show of solidarity, nearly 4 million people marched around the country Sunday, and the outpouring of shock and grief continued Tuesday as several victims were buried.
In Paris, the Marseillaise anthem rang out under gray skies as a grim-faced Hollande laid the country’s highest decoration, the Legion d’honneur, on to the coffins of three fallen police officers draped in the red, white and blue flag.
“Our great and beautiful France will never break, will never yield, never bend” in the face of the Islamist threat that is “still there, inside and outside” the country, Hollande said, surrounded by weeping families and uniformed colleagues.
Two policemen, Franck Brinsolaro, 49 and Muslim officer Ahmed Merabet, 40, were killed during the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
The third police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 26, originally from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, was gunned down by Coulibaly the next day when she arrived at the scene of a car accident in which he was involved. Many believe he was on his way to a nearby Jewish school.“They died so that we could live in freedom,” Hollande said at a solemn ceremony at the Paris police headquarters.
In Israel, thousands of mourners gathered at a cemetery for the funeral of Tunisian national Yoav Hattab, 21, and French citizens Philippe Braham, 45, Yohan Cohen, 20, and Francois-Michel Saada, 63, who were killed at the kosher supermarket.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told mourners that world leaders were “starting to understand” the threat of Islamist extremism.
To ease fears in a nation still jittery after its worst attacks in half a century, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that some 10,000 troops would be deployed to protect sensitive sites.
He said the unprecedented deployment on home soil was being handled like “a military operation.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced he would seek tighter surveillance of convicted extremists Tuesday and reports emerged that the weapons used by in the Paris attacks came from outside the country.
In a rousing, indignant speech, Valls said, “Serious and very high risks remain,” and warned the French not to let down their guard. He called for new surveillance of imprisoned radicals and told the interior minister to come up with new security proposals shortly.
Christophe Crepin, a French police union representative, said several people were being sought in relation to the “substantial” financing of the three gunmen. He said the weapons stockpile came from abroad and the amount spent plus the logistics of the attacks indicated an organized network.
While French authorities were working to trace the source of the weapons, a prosecutor in Bulgaria announced that a man already in custody had ties to one of the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo newspaper massacre.
French police say as many as six members of the terrorist cell that carried out the Paris attacks may still be at large, including a man seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the gunmen. The country has deployed thousands of troops to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs.
Valls earlier admitted there were “clear failings” after it emerged that the Kouachi brothers had been known to French intelligence agents and had been on a U.S. terror watch list “for years.”
Coulibaly, who Friday took hostages at the kosher supermarket, killing four before being shot down in a dramatic police assault, claimed he had coordinated his acts with the brothers.
As investigators hunted for those who may have assisted the killers, images of Coulibaly’s wanted partner Hayat Boumeddiene emerged at Istanbul airport accompanied by an unidentified man. She is believed to have entered Turkey before the attacks and went on to Syria.