In Brief

Charlie Hebdo suspects dead as police free hostages

Gunmen killed after double hostage crisis left two people dead at kosher supermarket in Paris

The men suspected of killing 12 people in the Charlie Hebdo attack have been killed and hostages have been freed from a Jewish supermarket in Paris in simultaneous raids by French police.

French newspaper Le Monde said a police source had confirmed the death of the two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who went on the run after opening fire at the satirical magazine's headquarters on Wednesday. They had spend the day holed up, with a hostage, in a printing business in Montagny-Sainte-Félicité, 30 miles north-east of Paris.

The fate of the hostage has not yet been officially confirmed, but Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, has said that they survived the operation.

#CharlieHebdo. The two terrorists are dead. The hostage is alive.

— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) January 9, 2015

As police launched their assault on the Charlie Hebdo suspects, their colleagues moved to end a second siege in Paris, where a gunman had shot dead two people and taken hostages at a kosher supermarket in the district of Porte de Vincennes.

The Guardian says multiple sources are reporting that the gunman in the Paris siege was killed in the police operation. 

Details remain unclear, but Le Monde says that he was Amedy Coulibaly, one of the two people wanted for the killing of a police officer in Paris yesterday morning. The other is a 26-year-old woman, Hayat Boumeddiene. Police earlier released an image of the two.

Images from the scene suggest that several hostages were evacuated from the building, although there are no reports of their condition. French media report that four hostages in the supermarket had been killed before the operation, but it is not clear whether that number includes the two who died at the beginning of the incident.

The French news agency AFP says the hostage-taker knew at least one of the gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.

According to the New York Times, the gunmen, Cherif and Said Kouachi, were on the US terrorist "no fly" list. A senior US official told the newspaper that Said Kouachi travelled to Yemen in 2011 and spent "a few months" training in small arms combat, marksmanship and other skills with an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Charlie Hebdo suspects 'rob petrol station'

8 January

Two brothers accused of storming the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo and killing 12 people have robbed a petrol station in northern France.

"They stole food and petrol, firing shots as they struck at the roadside stop near Villers-Cotterets in the Aisne region," the BBC reports.

The manager of the petrol station said the robbers matched the description of the two men who are wanted in connection with the Charlie Hebdo attack. A third suspect has given himself up to police.

Earlier this morning, tensions were raised yet further when a policewoman was shot dead in Montrouge, a southern suburb of Paris. Another person was also injured in the attack, after which the gunman fled.

The AFP news agency reports that the killer was armed with a machine-gun and a pistol, and was wearing a bullet-proof jacket.

Police said this afternoon that the shooting was being treated as "terrorism", but it remains unclear whether the attack is connected with the assault on the Charlie Hebdo offices yesterday. Eight journalists and two police officers were among those who died in the attack, and another 11  were wounded. 

Heavily-armed police carried out a late-night operation in the city of Reims last night, 90 miles east of Paris. No details were given about the nature of the action, but forensic teams were seen searching an apartment, the BBC reports. 

Police announced that arrest warrants have now been issued for two men – Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his brother Said, 34 – who are said to be "armed and dangerous".

Police also identified 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad as a suspect. After seeing his name on social media, Mourad turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mezieres, a small town 50 miles from Reims, The Guardian reports. 

According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, the two masked gunmen said they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed and shouted "Allahu akbar," (God is great) during the attack.

The gunmen then escaped in a getaway car which was later abandoned and impounded by police. An identification card of one of the Kouachi brothers was left in the car, CNN reports. "It was their only mistake," said Dominique Rizet, from French news channel BFMTV.

The Kouachi brothers were born in Paris and are of Algerian descent. In May 2008 Cherif was sentenced to three years in prison on terrorism charges, USA Today reports. Both brothers subsequently travelled to Syria but returned this summer.

At least 15,000 people held a vigil at the Place de la Republique in central Paris last night, many holding up placards saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie). The satirical publication's website has now replaced its homepage with the slogan printed in white on a black background, which links to a pdf document translating the phrase into Arabic, German, Spanish and other languages.

French media reported a number of attacks on Muslims in the past 24 hours. In separate incidents, shots were fired at a Muslim family in their car and at a Muslim prayer room, and a kebab shop next to a mosque was damaged by an explosion. No one was hurt.

Charlie Hebdo: 12 killed in Islamist attack on magazine

08 January

Paris remains on a state of high alert after 12 people were killed in an apparent Islamist attack on the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Witnesses said masked men fired at least two dozen shots in the magazine's offices while shouting "Allahu Akbar" and "the Prophet is avenged". The gunmen remain at large.

Charlie Hebdo's previous office was destroyed in a firebomb attack in 2011 as it prepared to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that cartoonists working for the magazine are among those who died in this morning's attack. French newspaper Le Monde quotes a "judicial source" who says that artists working under the names Charb, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous were killed.

Charb is the pen-name of Stephane Charbonnier, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo.

Police spokesman Rocco Contento said the attack, which began soon after 11.30am, was carried out by three gunmen who fled the scene in a car driven by a fourth man. They later abandoned the vehicle and hijacked another car, forcing the driver onto the street.

According to the French news agency AFP, the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket launcher. AP says they went to the second-floor newsroom and began firing indiscriminately.

Some witnesses have said the gunmen spoke perfect French and claimed to be from Al Qaeda in Yemen. The Guardian's Jason Burke said the Yemeni group was "the only official affiliate of the organisation founded by the late Osama bin Laden which has consistently shown an interest in striking the west – and has come close to successfully doing so – for many years".

The Daily Telegraph's chief foreign correspondent David Blair says the gunmen "acted with a skill and calmness that bears all the hallmarks of advanced military training".

"Amateur footage shows them using classic infantry tactics," he adds. "They move along the street outside the office working as a pair: one advances while the other gives cover." 

The attack came after a tweet from the magazine that showed a satirical cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State militant group waging war in Iraq and Syria, offering his best wishes for the new year.

Police said that security at the Charlie Hebdo building had been had been stepped up in recent weeks after new warnings were received, but the editor of the magazine, who was in London at the time of the attack, said he was not aware of any threats.

"I don't think anyone had received them as individuals, because they would have talked about it," he told France Inter. "There was no particular tension at the moment."

He said the attack was incomprehensible. "I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons," he said. "A newspaper is not a weapon of war."

Ten of the dead were Charlie Hebdo journalists. The other two were police officers who had arrived on the scene as the attackers left the building.

Photos posted online show gunmen taking aim at a police car outside the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. Others show bullet holes in the car windscreen.

In a video posted to YouTube, the gunmen shoot a police officer before fleeing. 

In addition to the 12 people killed in the attack, a further five were seriously injured, reports the BBC.

Standing at the scene, French President François Hollande described it as a "terrorist attack" of "exceptional barbarity". He told reporters that "several terrorist attacks were thwarted in recent weeks".

David Cameron has also condemned the attack: "The murders in Paris are sickening," he said on Twitter. "We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press."

The Times reports that there are no immediate plans to change Britain's terror threat level, but it says that "security arrangements at many office buildings - both public and private sector - will be subject to review and revision".


What are the phosphorus bombs ‘pummelling’ Ukraine?
White phosphorus being dropped by the Assad regime in Douma, Syria
Fact file

What are the phosphorus bombs ‘pummelling’ Ukraine?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

How much has the UK spent on Ukraine?
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Today’s big question

How much has the UK spent on Ukraine?

The fallout of Finland’s Nato membership bid
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin addresses a press conference on Nato membership in April
Getting to grips with . . .

The fallout of Finland’s Nato membership bid

Popular articles

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?
Vladimir Putin
Why we’re talking about . . .

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths
Vladimir Putin has previously deployed ‘extreme measures’ to crush opposition
Why we’re talking about . . .

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths

Nato vs. Russia: who would win?
Nato troops
In Depth

Nato vs. Russia: who would win?

The Week Footer Banner