Great Britain

Cashier tells of four-hour ordeal in Paris supermarket siege

A supermarket cashier described how she spent a terrifying four hours waiting to be killed after a terrorist shot a colleague and three customers and took 17 people hostage.

Zarie Sibony, 28, gave a chilling account of how Amédy Coulibaly launched into an antisemitic diatribe after laying siege to the Hyper Cacher shop in southern Paris in January 2015.

Coulibaly was in contact with brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi who had killed 12 people in an attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo two days earlier.

Sibony told a court in Paris she recalled “putting a packet of frozen chicken through” at the till when the gunman entered the supermarket around 1pm and shot colleague Yohan Cohen, 20, and sales executive Philippe Braham, 45.

She hid under the checkout but found herself face to face with the gunman.

“I was sitting on the floor and he was there in front of me with his arms, two Kalashnikov, one in each hand, and he said a phrase that I will never forget: ‘You, you’re not yet dead. You don’t want to die?’ and he fired. I saw the impact of the bullet in my till and I understood that I had almost died. I still don’t understand how he missed me when I was in front of him,” Sibony said.

Thinking Coulibaly was a robber, Sibony said she offered the gunman money to which he replied: “You think I’m doing this for money? The Kouachi brothers and I are part of the same group. You Jews, you like life too much when what’s important is death. I’m here to die. You are Jews and French, the two things I hate the most.”

The young woman recalled the smell of powder from the shots and coagulating blood and how the killer became annoyed by moaning noises from the fatally injured Cohen and asked hostages if he should finished him off.

“Of course we all said no,” Sibony said adding that Coulibaly left her colleague in agony but eventually shot and killed him.

She told the court she was forced to step over the bodies when the gunman ordered her to go and bring back those hiding on a lower ground floor while he held another cashier at gunpoint. Yoav Hattab, 21, a student, returned with her but was shot when he tried to grab one of the terrorist’s guns. “He doesn’t even know how to use a weapon,” the killer said, laughing and kicking his victim in the face.

The trial of 14 people accused of helping the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly – three of whom are being judged in absentia - will continue until November. The three gunmen were killed in separate shootouts with police.

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