Charlie Hebdo suspects killed
UPDATE: The two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo atrocity have been killed in a police raid
SUSPECTED Charlie Hebdo gunmen Chérif and Saïd Kouachi have been killed in a police raid on the building where they were hiding out.
Their hostage was freed in the raid.
Explosions and gunfire were heard shortly after 5pm at the printworks in Dammartin-en-Goele, a few kilometres from Charles de Gaulle airport, where the brothers suspected of killing 12 people in an attack on the Paris office of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were hiding out.
The gunfire was heard minutes after armed counter-terror officers were seen heading towards the building.
It has been reported that both men "came out shooting" when the raid was launched.
A short time earlier, residents' cars were seen heading away from the scene in what appeared to be a large-scale evacuation of the area.
The suspects had earlier reportedly told police they are "prepared to die" for their cause.
It has emerged that French broadcaster BFMTV managed to speak to Cherif Kouachi during the siege. He told them that he was "sent by al-Qaida in Yemen".
Shortly after the siege began this morning, two planes were forced to abort their planned landings at Charles de Gaulle, and had to "come around" again.
Two runways at the airport were closed to arrivals - but a spokesman for the airport said that flight schedules were not badly affected.
At the same time as this raid, police in Paris dealt with a separate hostage situation in the east of the city.
Today's drama unfolded after police yesterday searched the rural Aisne region of Picardy, about 43 miles from Paris after two men fitting the description of fugitives Chérif and Saïd Kouachi reportedly stole food and fuel from a petrol station yesterday. The station manager said the men were heavily armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The two men at the petrol station were driving a Renault Clio, believed to be the same vehicle that was hijacked by the gunmen after they ditched their getaway car following the attack in Paris.
After the tip-off late yesterday morning, armed police swarmed into the area to patrol local roads and scour countryside from Soissons, through Abbaye de Longpont, to the usually peaceful Picardy town of Villers-Cotterêts, while officers from France’s elite counter-terrorist unit conducted house-to-house searches.
Helicopters flew over the search area late into the night in an area which includes a forest the size of Paris near Longpont that is popular with hunters.
At least nine people connected to the Kouachi brothers have been detained in the towns of Reims and Charleville-Mezieres, as well as in the Paris area, French officials have said.
A US official has confirmed the brothers have been on a US “watch list” for some time, and are barred from travelling to the United States. According to French intelligence, Saïd Kouachi also travelled to Yemen in 2011 to receive training in small arms combat and marksmanship.
Photo © French Police