Helicopters with French intervention forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
DAMMARTIN-EN-GOELE - Two brothers wanted for the shooting of 12 people at the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were killed on Friday in a police raid on the print works north of Paris where they had been holed up with a hostage, officials said.
A police source said the hostage-taker at another stand-off at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris had been "neutralized". That hostage-taker was believed to have links to the same Islamist group as the two brothers.
One police official said the one hostage taken by the Kouachi brothers at the print works in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele was safe.
The fate of all the hostages believed to have been held at the supermarket in eastern Paris was not immediately clear, but French television showed several people running away from the premises after an earlier shootout.
French anti-terrorist police sealed off this small northern town and helicopters hovered overhead after a police source said two men believed to have carried out an attack on a satirical journal took at least one person hostage in a small print works.
Earlier, police had chased a vehicle at high speed along a main road heading towards Paris as one of France's biggest security operations in recent times unfolded. Gunshots rang out and the suspects abandoned their car in Dammartin-en-Goele, a small town of about 8,000 residents.
Police trucks, ambulances and armored vehicles descended on the area close to Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport after the suspects took refuge with at least one hostage in a building on an industrial estate, according to police sources.
Police quickly blocked all entrances to the town seeking to limit the scale of any siege and confine the suspects, French-born sons of Algerian-born parents. Residents were asked to stay off the streets.
"All residents are requested to remain at home. Children are to be kept safe in school," the municipal website said.
The two suspects have been on the run since they stormed the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper on Wednesday, killing ten journalists and two police officers in an attack that raised security fears across the world. The journal was known for its irreverent satirical treatment of Islam as well as other religions and political leaders.
Yves Albarello, local MP for the Seine-et-Marne department and member of the crisis cell put in place by authorities, told iTELE the two suspects had let it be known that they wanted to die "as martyrs".
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told iTELE television: "We are almost certain it is those two individuals holed up in that building."
Separately, a police source told Reuters that the man who killed a policewoman in a southern suburb of Paris on Thursday and fled the scene was a member of the same Islamist group as the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
The source said the three men were all members of the same Paris cell that a decade ago sent young French volunteers to Iraq to fight US forces. Cherif Kouachi served 18 months in prison for his role in the group.
Western security services had been keen to trace any links between the two suspects and militants overseas. A senior Yemeni intelligence source told Reuters one of the two was in Yemen for several months in 2011 for religious studies.
The danger of hostage taking or of a second attack has been a central concern of security services since the attack that has rocked France and raised questions about policing, militancy, religion and censorship.