Are Paris' Two Hostage Situations Related? Official Says The 'Charlie Hebdo' Suspects Know Second Hostage-Taker

On Friday, two dramatic hostage situations unfolded in different areas near Paris. The Charlie Hebdo attack suspects were cornered by police and took one hostage, according to reports, while a separate gunman in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris took a number of hostages — two of which were reported to have been killed — in a stand-off with police. In the midst of all the confusion, one question needs to be answered: Are Paris' two hostage situations related?

The gunman at the kosher market threatened to kill all of his at least five hostages if police storm the area where the two men suspected of the Charlie Hebdo killings have taken a hostage, prompting an official to tell the Associated Press that the two events are "clearly linked."

According to a source who spoke to Reuters, all three men know one another, and belong to the same jihadist cell. That cell sent young troops to fight U.S. forces in Iraq during the war there a decade ago, and all three men are believed to have been sent out together. The Associated Press tweeted that a police officer had told the agency: "Hostage-taker at Paris market appears linked to newspaper attack suspects."

The Agence France-Presse reports that Cherif Kouachi, one of the brothers suspected of the Charlie Hedbo killings, and Amedy Coulibaly, who is the suspect in the hostage situation in the supermarket, were involved in the same attempted prison break that occurred in France in 2010. Coulibaly was convicted for his role in the attempt, but charges against Kouachi were dropped.

Little else is known about the relationship between the three men, but all are linked to slayings in France this week. The Kouachi brothers, Cherif and Said, killed 12 and injured several more when they opened fire during a morning editorial meeting at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French newspaper. Meanwhile, the third hostage-taker is suspected to have killed a French policewoman in a suburb on Thursday.

Image: French Police Department