Cherif Kouachi (L) and Said Kouachi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Officials said Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said, both in their thirties, died Friday when security forces raided a print shop in the small town of Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where the chief suspects in Wednesday's attack against French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo had been holed up. The hostage they had taken was safe, an official said.
Minutes after the print shop assault, police broke the second siege at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris. Four hostages died there along with the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly.
Paris chief prosecutor Francois Molins told a press briefing that the two Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly had an arsenal of weapons and had set up booby traps.
"A M82 rocket launcher with a loaded rocket - I insist on this, a loaded rocket - ten smoke grenades, two Kalashnikov machine guns and two automatic pistols were discovered," Molins said, speaking about scene after the print shop assault.
"The bomb-disposal specialists even found a grenade on the body of one of the terrorists, which had been placed as a trap," Molins added.
He said Coulibaly had attacked police forces with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a "Skorpion" military pistol. After he was shot, police found two Russian-made Tokarev pistols, two machine guns, a bullet-proof vest and ammunition in the kosher supermarket.
He added that preliminary investigations showed frequent communication between the two groups.
"It appears from the investigation, especially from the exploitation of the phone-tappings, that Cherif Kouachi's spouse had called more than 500 times to Amedy Coulibaly's partner, Hayat Boumeddiene, which shows permanent and strong links between the two couples," Molins said.
Coulibaly had earlier called a French TV station to claim allegiance to Islamic State, saying he wanted to defend Palestinians and target Jews. He also said he had jointly planned the attacks with the Kouachi brothers, and police confirmed they were all members of the same Islamist cell in northern Paris.
Altogether 17 victims have died along with the three hostage-takers since Wednesday.
With one of the gunmen saying shortly before his death that he was funded by al Qaeda, President Francois Hollande warned that the danger to France - home to the European Union's biggest communities of both Muslims and Jews - was not over yet.