'Charlie Hebdo' Suspects Cherif & Said Kouachi Killed After A Long Standoff With French Police
On Friday evening in Dammartin-en-Goele on the north-east of Paris, the Charlie Hebdo suspects, Cherif and Said Kouachi, were killed by French police forces, and a hostage retrieved unharmed, after an hours-long standoff at a small printing warehouse.
The incident began when the two Parisian brothers fled Paris after the massacre at the satirical newspaper in which they killed 12 people. They reportedly robbed a petrol station near Villers-Cotterets and drove off with assault rifles and rocket launchers in the back of their vehicle. While allegedly making their way to Charles de Gaulle airport on the road into Paris, they came face-to-face with a heavy police presence controlling roads that led in and out of the city, reported Kim Willsher at The Guardian. After a terse shootout, the gunmen abandoned the car and dashed across a field into the printing firm.
While hiding out in the warehouse, officials managed to establish phone contact with the suspects, telling police that they wanted to die as "martyrs" and agreeing to allow nearby schools to evacuate. Hours after French anti-terrorism forces held back on an assault while the suspects were holed up, gunfire and explosions were heard and smoke seen rising from the warehouse.
Kindergartens and elementary schools 500 meters from the printers in Dammartin were evacuated, and buses were sent to high schools to remove children from the vicinity, reported Willsher. Deputy mayor Thierry Chevalier called the evacuation a "precautionary measure."
The brothers are linked to the suspect in the second Paris hostage situation, where several people, including children, were taken hostage in a kosher supermarket during the standoff with the Kouachis. The supermarket gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, was reportedly a member of the same jihadist cell group as the Kouachi brothers. He is also wanted in connection with the shooting of a female police officer on Thursday. A Paris public prosecutor told ABC News that Coulibaly and Cherif were also connected through a previous attempt at helping a convicted terrorist escape prison. Coulibaly was convicted, while authorities released Cherif.
Said was suspected of having fought for Al Qaeda in Yemen, said a Yemeni security official, during which time he reportedly met a leading Al Qaeda preacher, U.S.-born Anwar al Awlaki, who is known for his ability to draw international recruits.
Explosions and gunfire were also heard at the kosher supermarket almost at the same time police stormed the printing warehouse, reported BBC News. Coulibaly was killed in the simultaneous raid, marking hopefully the end of three days of fear and violence in the country.