Two separate hostage standoffs in France came to a violent end Friday, with the main suspects involved in the murder of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo killed.
Early on Friday, a man armed with a machine gun murdered at least two people and held others hostage at a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in Paris. Latest reports state that the man, identified as Amedy Coulibaly, has been killed. Reports indicate two more hostages may have lost their lives, while others were freed.
Meanwhile, the two main suspects in the Charlie Hebdo murders, Cherif and Said Kouachi, held one man hostage at a printing company in Dammartin-en-Goele, 22 miles northeast of Paris. After gunfire at the site was heard, police have reported that the suspects were killed and the hostage freed. One policeman was seriously injured.
The gunman at the grocery, Coulibaly, is believed to have been the alleged killer of a policewoman in Montrouge. Unconfirmed reports have said that Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi knew each other, they also claimed that a second shooter -- a woman -- was involved in the attack. Schools in the surrounding area, which has a large Jewish population, were quarantined. Thousands of armed police officers were deployed at both sites.
Global news channels all reported live from both sites, with constant updates drawing on social media, terrorism experts and news wire reports.
"At the time of speaking, police forces are in the process, I hope, of apprehending the perpetrators of this act of savagery and making sure they can do no more harm," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.
He was speaking at the offices of the left-wing daily Liberation, temporarily housing what is left of the Charlie Hebdo team, 10 of whom were killed by the Islamist gunmen in an attack on Wednesday. Two police officers were also killed.
Wednesday's Paris attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly has raised questions about surveillance of radicals, far-right politics, religion and censorship in a land struggling to integrate a five-million Muslim population, the EU's largest.
Security sources said the chief suspects in the attack -- two French-born brothers of Algerian origin under siege now in Dammartin -- were both under surveillance and had been placed on European and U.S. "no-fly" lists.
"I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow," U.S. President Barack Obama said at a speaking engagement in Tennessee, describing France as America's "oldest ally." In his remarks, made shortly after the standoffs ended, Obama, said he was hopeful that the immediate threat posed by terrorists in Paris had been resolved, although the French government continues to face the threat of terrorism.
Charlie Hebdo had long courted controversy with satirical attacks on Islam as well as other religions and political leaders. A witness said one of the gunmen in Wednesday's attack was heard to shout "We have killed Charlie Hebdo! We have avenged the Prophet!"
France has been high alert for more attacks since the country's worst terror attack in decades — the massacre Wednesday in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.
The two sets of hostage-takers apparently know each other, said a police official who was not authorized to discuss the rapidly developing situations with the media.
The Paris mayor's office announced the closure of all shops along Rosiers Street in the city's famed Marais neighborhood in the heart of the tourist district. Hours before the Jewish Sabbath, the street is usually crowded with shoppers — French Jews and tourists alike. The street is also only a kilometer (a half mile) away from Charlie Hebdo's offices.
Two brothers linked to al-Qaida grabbed a hostage early Friday and were cornered by police inside a printing house in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. They are believed responsible for the attack that decimated Charlie Hebdo's staff and left two police officers dead.
In addition, the police official said the gunman holding at least five hostages Friday inside a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris is believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday. Authorities released a photo of him and a female accomplice.
At the store near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood, the gunman burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring "You know who I am," the official recounted.
Hours before and 40 kilometers (25 miles) away , a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.
"They said they want to die as martyrs," Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.
One of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings, Cherif Kouachi, 32, was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for ties to a network sending jihadis to fight U.S. forces in Iraq.
A Yemeni security official said his 34-year-old brother, Said Kouachi, is suspected of having fought for al-Qaida in Yemen. Another senior security official says Kouachi was in Yemen until 2012.
Both officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of an ongoing investigation into Kouachi's stay in Yemen.
Both brothers were on the U.S. no-fly list, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss foreign intelligence publicly.
Nine people, members of the brothers' entourage, have been detained for questioning in several regions. In all, 90 people, many of them witnesses to the grisly assault on the satirical weekly, were questioned for information on the attackers, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
With the brothers trapped, Charles de Gaulle closed two runways to arrivals to avoid interfering in the standoff or endangering planes.
Authorities evacuated a school near the CTF Creation Tendance Decouverte printing plant around midday Friday after the suspects agreed by phone to allow the children safe passage, town spokeswoman Audrey Taupenas told The Associated Press. About an hour later, an AP reporter counted nine large, empty buses headed toward the area, apparently to evacuate the children.
Taupenas said there appeared to be one hostage, a number confirmed by a police official on the scene who was not allowed to discuss the operation.
A man who said he had his car stolen early Friday told Europe 1 the first man who approached him had machine gun and the second man had a gun "with a kind of grenade at the end."
Tens of thousands of French security forces have mobilized to prevent a new terror attack since the assault on Charlie Hebdo, which decimated its editorial staff, including the chief editor who had been under armed guard after receiving death threats for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. He and his police bodyguard were the first to die, witnesses said.
Louis Zenon, a 14-year-old who lives close to siege site, watched as helicopters hovered overhead.
"There is a lot of fear," he said, adding everyone he knew was staying home with their doors and shutters closed. "We're scared. The schools are being evacuated."
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