"France will never yield, will never bend, it will face up"
'They died so that the rest of us could live in freedom'
President Francois Hollande paid homage to the "sacrifice and devotion to duty" of three police officers killed in last week's terrorist attacks, in an emotional ceremony yesterday.
"They died so that we can live in freedom," Mr Hollande said after the three coffins, draped in the red, white and blue French flag, were carried into the courtyard of police headquarters in Paris.
"France will never yield, will never bend, it will face up," Mr Hollande said.
He spoke to the officers' families and spent several minutes consoling the tearful mother of Clarissa Jean-Phillipe, a 27-year-old policewoman from Martinique, in the French West Indies. She had just completed her training when she was killed by a bullet in the back near a Jewish school in the Paris suburb of Montrouge on Thursday, fired by Amedy Coulibaly, who went on to kill four hostages at a Kosher supermarket the next day.
"How is it possible to justify that a 27-year-old policewoman can be murdered in such a cowardly manner?" Mr Hollande said. "What can be the motive for such an abomination?"
Her colleague, Ahmed Merabet (40), a Muslim officer who was killed by a gunshot to the head as he lay wounded in the street, had "heroically decided to bar the way" as the 'Charlie Hebdo' gunmen escaped after massacring 12 people, Mr Hollande said.
The third police officer, Franck Brinsolaro (49) was assigned as a bodyguard for the satirical magazine's editor, who had received death threats after publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
"He died with his gun in his hand," trying to protect the staff of 'Charlie Hebdo', Mr Hollande said. "The others had only their pens."
The president emphasised the "diversity" of France which the three officers represented.
"Theirs were three faces of France... Those who killed them had only one face, the face of hatred." Many of the relatives and hundreds of uniformed police officers at the ceremony were in tears, and several fainted.
Later, French prime minister Manuel Valls said his country was at war with extremism and terrorism - but not with Muslims.
He told the French National Assembly that the Islamist gunmen who murdered 17 people in Paris had wanted to kill the "spirit of France", but had failed.
The officers were posthumously awarded France's highest decoration, the Legion d'Honneur.
Grim-faced, Mr Hollande stood immobile as a police band played the national anthem, 'La Marseillaise'. The three coffins were then carried out to a solemn drum roll.
The funerals of the officers were held privately yesterday.
In Jerusalem, the funerals for the four Jewish victims in the Paris terror attack on the kosher supermarket were also being held.
Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Francois-Michel Saada and Phillipe Braham were brought to Israel early yesterday, and were buried in Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.
Crowds lined the streets to pay their respects, many with signs stating: "Je suis Juif" and "Je suis Israelien" above photographs of the victims. (© Daily Telegraph, London)