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Charlie Hebdo attack brothers and hostages killed as police storm Paris siege sites

French security forces dramatically ended a three-day terror rampage around Paris, killing two brothers who staged a murderous rampage at a satirical magazine as well as an associate who took hostages at a kosher supermarket in a bid to help them escape.

It was the worst terror spree France has seen in decades.

At least seven people were killed today - the three terrorists and at least four hostages - just days after 12 people were massacred in the magazine attack on Wednesday.

Sixteen hostages were freed today, one from the printing plant where the two brothers were holed up and 15 others from the Paris supermarket.

The fate of a fourth suspect - the wife of the supermarket attacker - remained unclear and Paris shut down a famed Jewish region amid fears that a wider terror cell might launch further attacks.

France's interior minister warned his shaken nation to remain "extremely vigilant".

The four attackers had ties to each other and to terrorism that stretched back years and extended from Paris to al Qaida in Yemen. They epitomised Western authorities' greatest fear: Islamic radicals who trained abroad and came home to stage attacks.

Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, came out with their guns blazing tonight after an all-day hostage siege at a printing plant north east of Paris, a French police official said. They were killed and their hostage was freed.

An accomplice, Amedi Coulibaly, took hostages at a kosher supermarket in the Porte de Vincennes area in Paris - then died in a simultaneous raid there, said Gael Fabiano, of the UNSA police union.

Coulibaly had threatened to kill his five hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, a police official said.

A French television news network spoke directly with the Kouachi brothers before they died. BFM television said it spoke with the pair who were cornered near Charles de Gaulle airport and they confirmed they were financed and dispatched by al Qaida in Yemen.

The station also said it spoke with Coulibaly, who said the three men were coordinating and that he was with the militant Islamic State group.

France has been on high alert since the Charlie Hebdo massacre left 12 people dead. The next day, a gunman shot a policewoman dead in a gunfight just south of Paris.

Police later identified the gunman as Coulibaly, who had been a co-suspect with Cherif Kouachi in a court case involving terrorism that never made it to trial.

Paris police released a photo of Coulibaly and his wife, Hayet Boumddiene, said to be his accomplice.

The Kouachi brothers led police on a chase around north east France, robbing a petrol station yesterday and stealing a car this morning before seizing hostages at a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle airport.

After a tense standoff, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside as a police SWAT team clambered onto the roof. Audrey Taupenas, spokeswoman for the town, confirmed the brothers had died in the clash.

"They said they want to die as martyrs," Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.

Trying to fend off further attacks, the Paris mayor's office shut down all shops along Rosiers Street in the city's famed Marais area in the heart of the tourist district.

At the kosher store near the Porte de Vincennes area in Paris, the gunman burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring "You know who I am".

Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the supermarket were able to flee and get medical care. One hundred students were locked down in nearby schools and the road ringing Paris was closed.

One of the supermarket hostages managed to call her daughter, who told Europe 1: "She called me and told me 'I am in the shop, I love you'."

The daughter added: "I am scared. Someone told me there have been two deaths. No one has told me if it is my mother or not."

Hostage taker Coulibaly opened fire in the supermarket before telling police who flooded the area: "You know who I am."

He then threatened to kill his captives if police launched an operation against the Kouachi brothers cornered on the industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goele.

Police issued a photograph of Coulibaly and appealed for help tracking him down as part of the investigation into the "voluntary homicide" of the police woman in Montrouge.

Cherif Kouachi, 32, was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for ties to a network sending jihadis to fight US. 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..

Both brothers were also on the US no-fly list.

French president Francois Hollande, speaking in a national address, confirmed the deaths of the four hostages and urged the nation: "I call you all to be vigilant, to remain united and remain mobilised. Vigilance is something the state must demonstrate.

"Make sure that we can live quietly without - at any time - being the object of the threat of a risk. However, we have to be vigilant.

"I ask you to remain united - it's our best weapon. It shows we are determined to fight against anything that can divide us.

"We must not be divided.

"We must also mobilise to answer to these attacks, through force when we have to, but we must also do this through solidarity.

"Our ideas are bigger than us, we are capable of defending that value wherever it is threatened."

Police also want to trace Hayat Boumeddiene, a 26-year-old woman said to have been Coulibaly's partner.

It is understood that the Kouachi brothers, who were well-known for holding jihadist views, were on a British watch and no-fly list to prevent them from entering the UK or passing through a British airport.

US intelligence placed the brothers on the list at the same time as Britain.

But questions will now be asked about how closely the pair were monitored by the French authorities.

Flights diverted

Flights were diverted at Charles de Gaulle airport, a few miles from the site of the Dammartin-en-Goele siege, as police and media helicopters hover overhead.

One brother was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008, and survivors of the bloody assault on Charlie Hebdo said the attackers claimed allegiance to al Qaida in Yemen. The weekly newspaper had been repeatedly threatened - and its offices were firebombed in 2011 - after satirising Islam and depicting the prophet Muhammad in caricature.

A salesman at the printing business has said he shook one of the suspect’s hands when they arrived at the building at 8.30am this morning.

Speaking to France Info radio, he said the man said he had an appointment with the owner of the business.

He took him to be a police special operations officer, as he was dressed in black combat gear with a bullet-proof vest and heavily armed with at least one rifle

The man then said "Go, we don’t kill civilians".

Heavily-armed security forces with air cover moved along country roads and among old stone buildings.

The country's maximum terror alert was extended from Paris to the northern Picardy region, focusing on towns that might be safe havens for Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34.

French prime minister Manuel Valls said both men were known to intelligence services.

A senior US official said yesterday that the elder Kouachi had travelled to Yemen, although it was unclear whether he was there to join extremist groups such as al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based there.

The younger brother, Cherif, was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for his links to a network sending jihadis to fight American forces in Iraq.

French president Francois Hollande called for tolerance after the country's worst terrorist attack in decades.

"France has been struck directly in the heart of its capital, in a place where the spirit of liberty - and thus of resistance - breathed freely," Mr Hollande said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is relieved that the French terrorists have been killed and urged all people around the world "to enhance the level of tolerance and respect for the belief and religions and tradition of others".

The UN chief said all differences of views on religion and other issues can be resolved through dialogue.

But he said the tragedy in Paris was not about religion.

"This is a purely unacceptable terrorist attack, criminality," Mr Ban said. "This kind of criminality must be brought to justice in the name of humanity."

The secretary-general spoke after signing a condolence book at France's UN Mission.

"I am confident that even in these dark times France will continue to show the way of liberty and tolerance," he wrote in French.

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 Charlie Hebdo, were questioned for information on the attackers, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

The minister confirmed reports that the men were identified by the elder brother's ID card, left in an abandoned getaway car, a slip that contrasted with the seeming professionalism of the attack.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Mourad Hamyd, surrendered at a police station on Wednesday evening after hearing his name linked to the attacks. His relationship to the Kouachi brothers was unclear.

The Kouachi brothers - born in Paris to Algerian parents - were well-known to French counter-terrorism authorities. Cherif Kouachi, a former pizza deliveryman, had appeared in a 2005 French TV documentary on Islamic extremism.

Charlie Hebdo had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirised other religions and political figures. The weekly paper had caricatured the prophet Muhammad, and a sketch of Islamic State's leader was the last tweet sent out by the irreverent newspaper, minutes before the attack. Nothing has been tweeted since.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in the attack.

Charlie Hebdo plans a special edition next week, produced in the offices of another paper.

Editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who was among those killed, "symbolised secularism ... the combat against fundamentalism," his companion, Jeannette Bougrab said.

"He was ready to die for his ideas," she said.

 

Read more:

Charlie Hebdo: Kouachi brothers were on British and US 'no fly' list

Charlie Hebdo: French tourists join Derry crowds 

Charlie Hebdo vigil: Belfast falls silent in tribute to victims  

Charlie Hebdo: Why freedom of the Press has always come at a deadly price  

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