Charlie Hebdo suspects killed in hostage drama

2015-01-09 20:10

French police have stormed a printing plant north of Paris, freeing a hostage and killing two brothers linked to al-Qaeda who were suspected of slaying 12 people at a Paris newspaper two days ago.

Two groups of terrorists had seized hostages at separate locations around the French capital today, facing off against thousands of French security forces as the city shut down a famed Jewish neighbourhood and scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks.

By this afternoon, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, had holed up with a hostage.

Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day. After the explosions, police SWAT forces could be seen on the roof of the building and one police helicopter landed near it.

Audrey Taupenas, spokesperson for the town near the Charles de Gaulle airport, said the brothers had died in the clash.

France has been high alert since the country's worst terror attack in decades - the massacre on Wednesday in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

Minutes before the storming, a gunman in a Paris kosher grocery store had threatened to kill his five hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, a police official said. The two sets of hostage-takers know each other, said the official, who was not authorised to discuss the rapidly developing situations with the media.

Trying to fend off further attacks, the Paris mayor's office shut down all shops along Rosiers Street in the city's famed Marais neighbourhood 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 kilometre away from Charlie Hebdo's offices.

At the kosher grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighbourhood in Paris, the gunman burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring "You know who I am," the official recounted. The attack came before sundown when the store would have been crowded with shoppers.

The official said the gunman is also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman yesterday.

Paris police released a photo of the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice.

Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the kosher grocery were able to flee and get medical care, the official said.

Police said 100 students were under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.

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