Muslim employee of Paris market praised for hiding customers from gunman

Security officers escort released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)   | Photo Credit: Michel Euler

As the authorities in France worked on Saturday to piece together the sequence of events at a kosher supermarket in Paris where a gunman and four hostages were killed on Friday, there was an outpouring of praise online for a young employee credited with saving the lives of some customers by hiding them in a cold-storage room.

The employee, Lassana Bathily, 24, was identified in the French news as a Muslim from Mali who worked at the supermarket, Hyper Cacher, near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris.

In an interview with the French channel BFMTV, Bathily said he ushered about 15 people into the basement room after the gunman burst into the shop. He then turned off the power.

Later in the four-hour siege, Bathily decided to leave the room and tried to escape through a freight elevator leading to the attic. He encouraged others to join him, he said, but they were worried that the gunman, identified by the police as Amedy Coulibaly, would be able to hear them if they used that escape route and decided to remain hidden.

When Bathily escaped and emerged from the market while Coulibaly was still inside, he was ordered by the police to lie down and put his hands on his head.

He was then placed in handcuffs for an hour and a half but eventually was able to help the authorities plan their operation to liberate the hostages by describing the layout of the shop.

As news of his heroics spread on Saturday, there were numerous calls on social networks to reward him for his bravery with either the Legion of Honor, Frances highest award, or French citizenship.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 12:55:44 PM |

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