French Police Kill Gunmen in Twin Attacks, Free 16 Hostages

UPDATED: Jan. 9, 2015 4:15 p.m.

DAMMARTIN-EN-GOELE, France (CBSDC/AP) — With explosions and gunfire, security forces on Friday ended a three-day terror spree around Paris, killing the two al-Qaida-linked brothers who staged a murderous rampage at a satirical newspaper and an associate who seized a kosher supermarket to try to help them escape.

The worst terrorist attacks France has seen in decades left at least 20 people dead, including the three gunmen. The fate of a fourth suspect, a female accomplice of the market attacker, remain unclear.

At least seven people were killed Friday, the three terrorists and at least four hostages, a policewoman was killed Thursday and 12 people were massacred in the Paris newspaper attack Wednesday. Sixteen hostages were freed Friday, one from the printing plant where the two brothers were holed up and 15 others from the Paris grocery store.

CBS News showed video of authorities going into the kosher market where at least five explosions were heard. Authorities were able to get a live feed of the market’s security cameras before making their move.

The gunman killed at the kosher market has been identified as Amedy Coulibaly. Four hostages were also killed at the market.

The suspects behind the Charlie Hebdo attack — Said and Cherif Kouachi — were killed at the printing plant and that a hostage has been freed. The Associated Press reports the brothers came out of the building shooting before being killed by police. The Kouachi brothers killed 12 people at the French satirical newspaper on Wednesday.

One of the brothers had been convicted of terrorism charges in 2008, the other had visited Yemen. A U.S. official said both brothers — 32-year-old Cherif Kouachi and 34-year-old Said Kouachi — were on the American no-fly list.

“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.

French news channel i-Tele reports that Algerian officials warned France Tuesday of an imminent terrorist attack.

Intelligence sources tell CBS News that analysts are searching for any possible connections between the French terror suspects and Americans, but there is no indication of any plot involving the U.S.

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 was armed with machine gun and the second man had a gun “with a kind of grenade at the end.”

The siege happened as another hostage situation took place at a kosher supermarket in Paris, where at least five people were held hostage.

Paris authorities identified the suspect as Amedy Coulibaly. He is believed, along with his girlfriend Hayat Boumeddienne, to be behind the shooting death of a female police officer on Thursday. French authorities are still attempting to locate Boumeddienne following the market raid.

CBS News also reports that Coulibaly appears to be connected to the Kouachi brothers as they belonged to the same recruiting ring that tried to get French forces to fight U.S. forces in Iraq several years ago.

The Associated Press reports the gunman declared “You know who I am” when he opened fire in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood market.

Sky News reports that kosher restaurants in Paris are closing following this latest hostage situation.

All shops in a famed Jewish neighborhood in central Paris have been ordered closed.

The Paris mayor’s office immediately 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 away from Charlie Hebdo’s offices.

Tens of thousands of French security forces have mobilized to prevent a new terror attack since the Wednesday assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in the heart of Paris left 12 people dead, including the chief editor and cartoonist who had been under armed guard with threats against his life after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. His police bodyguard also died in the attack, which began during an editorial meeting.

The brothers were named as the chief suspects after Said’s identity card was left behind in their abandoned getaway car. They were holed up Friday inside CTF Creation Tendance Decouverte, a printing house. Xavier Castaing, the chief Paris police spokesman, and town hall spokeswoman Audrey Taupenas said there appeared to be one hostage inside. The police official, who was on the scene, confirmed a hostage.

Christelle Alleume, who works across the street, said a round of gunfire interrupted her coffee break Friday morning.

“We heard shots and we returned very fast because everyone was afraid,” she told i-Tele. “We had orders to turn off the lights and not approach the windows.”

The police official said security forces were preparing to intervene. The town’s website called on residents to stay home and said children would be kept at school.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said both suspects had been known to intelligence services before the attack.

A senior U.S. official said Thursday the elder Kouachi had traveled to Yemen, although it was unclear whether he was there to join extremist groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based there. Witnesses said he claimed allegiance to the group during the attack.

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.

Both were also on the U.S. no-fly list, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said. The American officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss foreign intelligence publicly.

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,” Hollande said.

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 in a statement.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Mourad Hamyd, surrendered at a police station 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 counterterrorism authorities. Cherif Kouachi, a former pizza deliveryman, had appeared in a 2005 French TV documentary on Islamic extremism and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for trying to join up with fighters battling in Iraq.

Charlie Hebdo had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirized 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 planned a special edition next week, produced in the offices of another paper.

Editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who was among those slain, “symbolized secularism … the combat against fundamentalism,” his companion, Jeannette Bougrab, said on BFM-TV.

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

Authorities around Europe have warned of the threat posed by the return of Western jihadis trained in warfare. France counts at least 1,200 citizens in the war zone in Syria – headed there, returned or dead. Both the Islamic State group and al Qaeda have threatened France, home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim population.

The French suspect in a deadly 2014 attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium had returned from fighting with extremists in Syria; and the man who rampaged in southern France in 2012, killing three soldiers and four people at a Jewish school, received paramilitary training in Pakistan.

President Barack Obama met with his national security team Thursday following the attack.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama held a conference call with top intelligence, justice and homeland security officials as Air Force One flew the president to Washington after an appearance Thursday in Phoenix.

Obama got an update on the investigation into Wednesday’s killings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo — and on America’s “terror threat picture” after the attack.

Obama said during an appearance in Knoxville, Tenn., Friday that the U.S. stands with France.

“We’re hopeful the immediate threat is now resolved,” Obama said.

The Department of Homeland Security has said there’s no indication of a specific threat to Americans stemming from the events in Paris. But Obama has said the attack underscores the need for the U.S. to remain vigilant in trying to protect Americans wherever they may be.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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