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Negotiator On The Scene In Standoff Outside Paris

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's zero in on one of the two standoffs we're tracking in France today. It's the one at the industrial building in a small town outside Paris. Two suspects allegedly responsible for this week's Paris massacre are believed to be inside there, and Chris O'Brien of the Los Angeles Times is outside in that small town. Welcome to the program.

CHRIS O'BRIEN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: What have you been able to learn?

O'BRIEN: Well, the standoff began early this morning and brought quite a substantial police presence to what is a pretty midsize French village about 25 minutes northeast of Paris. The details they're releasing are very scant at the moment. We're still trying to get actual confirmation about whether there is in fact a hostage in the building.

We've heard conflicting reports that an employee of the print shop was taken hostage this morning. And a French lawmaker has confirmed that the police are in contact with the suspects inside the facility. And there have been discussions over the phone and the little bit of details they released about that was the lawmaker saying basically that the suspects had said that they were wanting to end the episode as martyrs.

INSKEEP: Wanting to the episode as martyrs, which would seem to rule out negotiations necessarily, at least according to the reports you're hearing at this moment.

O'BRIEN: Correct. We're not - there isn't a widespread sense of optimism, of course, based on that statement. And so, you know, we're all kind of in a waiting pattern now waiting to see what will happen. We know also they brought in about at least eight to 10 fairly large public buses to evacuate the schools in the area. They're keeping a pretty tight perimeter around the village with the police presence here in terms of who they are letting in and out, and we've seen, of course, helicopters flying over. There's a pretty substantial media presence here as you can imagine as well.

But for the moment, things seem to have really come to a standstill in terms of whether there's any sense that there will be a resolution, either a negotiated one or something more forceful.

INSKEEP: And you have said something that underlines for us how scanty the facts are. You have given us the first indication of who the hostage might be. You said there's some feeling that there may be an employee of the print shop in there with these two men. And yet, we do not know for certain that they're really holding a hostage, if this is simply something they're saying or if something else is happening. That is not a fact at this point.

O'BRIEN: That is correct. That is entirely unconfirmed and again, it seems to have gone back and forth throughout the day in terms of the wisdom that there is someone, who that person would be, that they don't have someone. I think again the feeling - and again I want to caution that it is a sense rather than a fact - is that they're likely is. Otherwise, the thinking is they might not have held off quite so long in terms of taking more forceful action.

INSKEEP: Oh, the authorities might not have held off otherwise. Chris O'Brien at the Los Angeles Times, thanks very much for your insights. Appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.