PARIS: From the father who hid his toddler inside a supermarket refrigerator to the employee who texted tactical information to police from beneath a sink, authorities praised the quick instincts of survivors in the hostage incidents that gripped France Friday.
At the printing business northeast of Paris besieged by the brothers believed to have carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre, one employee took refuge “under a sink in the canteen” upstairs, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.
The employee—a 26-year-old graphic designer named Lilian, according to a source close to the investigation—was “terrified”, Molin said.
But, overcoming his fear as he remained undetected, he began communicating with police outside via text message, sending them “tactical elements such as his location inside the premises,” a source said.
The brothers—identified as Cherif and Said Kouachi, who had been on the run since they are believed to have slaughtered 12 people at the weekly magazine’s offices in Paris on Wednesday—had been cornered there after a firefight with police which Molins said left Said with a minor neck wound.
They had a hefty cache of arms including Molotov cocktails and a loaded rocket-launcher.
The brothers had taken the store manager hostage, but later released him after he helped Said with his wound as the second man hid upstairs, said Molins.
Another source said the hidden employee was also able to communicate with a family member via text.
Some 40 kilometers away, shortly before 1 p.m., a father called Ilan and his three-year-old son were at a kosher supermarket in Vincennes when Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be an ally of the Kouachi brothers, burst into the store and pulled out a Kalashnikov.
The father and son quickly hid in the supermarket’s refrigeration unit, two relatives told Agence France-Presse.