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Suspects In Paris Magazine Attack Killed; Market Gunman And 4 Hostages Also Dead

(This post was last updated at 6:50 p.m. ET.)

A nationwide manhunt for the suspects of France's deadliest terrorist attack in more than 50 years ended in a hail of gunfire on Friday.

After hours of tension in two separate standoffs that shut down parts of the Paris metro area, the two main suspects in the attack on a satirical magazine and a man who took hostages at a kosher grocery are dead, President François Hollande said in a speech to the nation.

Hollande also said four hostages had been killed today; he called the week's events "a tragedy for the nation, an obligation for us to confront terrorists."

"We are a free nation that does not give in," the French president said. "We carry an ideal that is greater than us."

The standoffs started this morning, when police cornered Said and Chérif Kouachi, who were suspected of killing 12 people in the Charlie Hebdo attack, at a print shop in the small town of Dammartin-en-Goele.

While initial reports said an employee of the shop was being held hostage there, it later emerged that the worker, reportedly a graphic designer, was hiding in the building, undetected by the gunmen.

"He was able to give [by text messages] tactical elements" such as the positions inside the building, French TV news Itele reports.

Separately, in eastern Paris, a gunman identified as Amedy Coulibaly entered a kosher grocery and took several people hostage. He also called a TV news station, seeking to talk to police (more on that in our updates below). And it seems that amidst his phone calls, Coulibaly didn't hang up properly — allowing police to hear his movements.

"The audio information wasn't distinct," BFM TV reports, "but was precious to law enforcement."

The station adds that police began their assault on the store at the same time they heard Coulibaly start praying.

Police have made several connections between Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers, French media report, through cellphone and legal records. Police are still looking for one suspect: Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, whom they say was involved in the killing of a policewoman in Paris Thursday.

"U.S. officials say both Coulibaly and Boumeddiene were known to American intelligence authorities," NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports.

A little after 11 a.m. ET, and as the sun began to set in France, explosions were heard at both the store and the print shop, as police began an assault.

Images on French television showed hostages streaming out of the kosher grocery store after an explosion and gunfire; a large explosion was seen at the print shop in Dammartin-en-Goele. That was followed by smoke billowing from the building.

The AFP reported that when police stormed the print shop, the Kouachi brothers came out firing and were killed during the confrontation. The authorities say Coulibaly was killed during the siege of the kosher market.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that police were first tipped off to the Kouachi brothers when a resident reported a stolen car in the small village of Dammartin-en-Goele, 25 miles northeast of Paris. The caller recognized the brothers and told police that they were heavily armed.

Police moved in and surrounded the print shop, located in an industrial center not far from the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris. For hours, special tactical units kept watch, while helicopters swooped overhead.

As that was unfolding, another gunman walked into the kosher shop in eastern Paris, reportedly taking a handful of hostages.

Eleanor reported that the series of events left the city — already reeling from its worst terrorist attack in more than 50 years — in a state of shock. Police cordoned off parts of Paris, and officers in tactical gear and with big guns walked through the streets as sirens sounded everywhere.

Police also released a poster naming Coulibaly and a 26-year-old woman named Hayat Boumeddiene as suspects in a shooting that left a policewoman dead on Thursday. There is still no word on the whereabouts of Boumeddiene.

By around 11:30 a.m. ET, the siege was over. In total, since the mass shooting at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, 17 people have been killed in France.

Hours after the standoffs ended, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a statement threatening France with more violence; the AP says that the group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack.

Hollande said the country knows that the threat is not "yet over."

He called for vigilance and extra security; he said the country should reject any racist attacks like the "anti-Semitic act" committed today. He also said that the suspects killed today "have nothing to do with Islam."

"We must show our determination against anything that may divide us," Hollande said.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time. Refresh this page for the latest.

Update at 6:50 p.m. ET: Explosives In Kosher Grocery

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins has confirmed more details about the case. Molins spoke late Friday; here's a quick recap of what he said:

  • Four people who died in a kosher grocery were killed when Coulibaly first entered the store, not at the end of the standoff.
  • Coulibaly had explosive devices, but they were not detonated.
  • One of the Kouachi brothers was wounded in the neck during an earlier shootout with police.
  • Weapons seized include an M82 rocket launcher and multiple Kalashnikov machine guns. Reuters says Coulibaly's weapons included a "Skorpion military pistol."
  • 16 people have been taken into police custody since Wednesday's attack; 5 remain in custody.
  • Update at 5:50 p.m. ET: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Reportedly Claims Responsibility

    A senior official of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula praised this week's attack in Paris and threatened France with more violence, according to the SITE organization, which monitors extremist groups.

    A speech by was posted online Friday, after the chief suspects in the attack were killed. In it, Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari says (according to SITE's translation):

    "Some of the sons of France were disrespectful to the prophets of Allah, so a group from among the believing soldiers of Allah marched unto them, then they taught them respect and the limit of the freedom of expression."

    The AQAP separately claimed responsibility for guiding the attack, the AP says.

    Update at 5 p.m. ET: Suspects Said To Have Spoken To French Media Before Deadly Showdown

    A French media outlet says it spoke to both Chérif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly as the men were engaged in two separate standoffs with police, and that both of them avowed ties to terrorist groups.

    The phone interviews with Kouachi and Coulibaly reportedly took place well before France's BFM TV or its sister radio station RMC broadcast them.

    BFM TV says the conversation with Kouachi took place after a journalist called the print shop where the Kouachi brothers were holed up.

    Kouachi said he and his brother had not killed any civilians and that they had acted to avenge Prophet Muhammad. He also said that Western forces had killed women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

    According to a synopsis by Sarah-Lou Cohen, the head of BFMTV's police and justice unit, Kouachi said he had been supported by Al-Qaeda in Yemen — a group now more commonly known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

    When asked about the possibility that he might be killed, Kouachi answered, "That's not a problem."

    BFM TV says it spoke to Coulibaly after he called the network asking for a number for the police. At the time of the conversation, the man said that four people had already died in the kosher grocery where he had barricaded himself from the authorities.

    Coulibaly claimed allegiance to the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State (or ISIS); he also said that his actions were tied to those of the Kouachi brothers.

    When asked if the attacks had been synchronized, he answered, "No. Just when they started the attack at Hebdo, I was to attack police."

    Update at 2:16 p.m. ET. 'We Stand For Freedom':

    Speaking in front of students at Pellisippi State Community College in Tennessee, President Obama offered the French his support.

    "The United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow," Obama said.

    The president added that the U.S. stood by the values that the U.S. and France share.

    "In the streets of Paris, the world's seen once again what terrorists stand for: they have nothing to offer but hatred and human suffering," Obama said. "And we stand for freedom and hope and the dignity of all human beings. And that's what the city of Paris represents to the world."

    Closing his speech to a round of applause, Obama said, "And that spirit will endure forever – long after the scourge of terrorism is banished from this world.

    Update at 1:21 p.m. ET. 'How Great The Threat Is':

    In statements to the press, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve thanked the police officers and the special teams that worked to end the crisis today.

    He said the events of the past few days "show how great the threat" is to France.

    "It is incumbent on us to be on constantly alert," Cazeneuve said.

    The minister refused to give any details of the operation, because he said he did not want to put out any misinformation.

    Update at 12:11 p.m. ET. Hollande To Address Nation:

    President François Hollande will address his country at 2 p.m. ET, according to Palais de l'Élysée.

    Update at 12:01 p.m. ET. Siege Is Over:

    According to multiple media outlets, both hostage standoffs in France are over.

    According to reports, Said and Chérif Kouachi were killed in the siege in Dammartin-en-Goele, and Amedy Coulibaly was killed in the siege in eastern Paris.

    There is still no word on any other casualties.

    Update 11:19 a.m. ET. Explosions, Gunfire At Both Locations:

    Minutes apart, reporters at both standoff locations reported gunshots and explosions.

    NPR's Lauren Frayer reported that French television showed what appeared to be civilians streaming out of the kosher grocery store in eastern Paris.

    Television images showed a large explosion at a print shop in Dammartin-en-Goele. That was followed by smoke billowing from the building.

    Update at 11:14 a.m. ET. Explosions, Sirens:

    NPR's Eleanor Beardsley says she has just heard loud explosions and gunfire in Paris.

    She says people started running when they heard it.

    The booms, she told Morning Edition, were followed by sirens.

    It's still unclear what is going on.

    Update 11:06 a.m. ET. The Scene In Paris:

    NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that police have cordoned off a big area of eastern Paris. She reports that "everyone is in a state of shock."

    "People are angry and nervous," she told our Newscast unit. "It's a crazy scene."

    You can hear sirens and police dressed in tactical gear with big guns walking the city.

    Update at 11 a.m. ET. Smoke, Explosions:

    Television images are showing light smoke coming from the printing company where the Kouachi brothers are thought to be holed up.

    Police forces in tactical gear were also on the roof of the building.

    Reuters reports one of its reporters heard gunshots and "several explosions."

    Update at 10:08 a.m. ET. The Links:

    There's a lot going on in this story. Here, we'll try to lay out all of the known connections plainly:

    -- There are four events to keep in mind. 1. The shooting at Charlie Hebdoon Wednesday morning .2. The shooting death of a female police officer on Thursday in Montrouge. 3. An ongoing standoff in Dammartin-en-Goele, where police believe the two main suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting, Said and Chérif Kouachi, are holed up in the building of a printing company. 4. An ongoing standoff at a kosher shop in eastern Paris, where, according to multiple media reports, police believe Amedy Coulibaly has taken a handful of hostages.

    -- Earlier today, police named Coulibaly as a suspect in the shooting death of the female police officer on Thursday.

    -- NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported on Morning Edition that U.S. officials have been telling her privately that Thursday's shooting incident was terrorism related.

    -- Dina says that authorities now believe that Coulibaly is a friend of the Kouachi brothers.

    -- Le Parisen reports that in 2010, Coulibaly was implicated in trying to help in the escape of one of the masterminds of terrorist attacks that happened in 1995. The news outlet also reports that Coulibaly was convicted on terrorism charges.

    -- As we reported, Chérif Kouachi was implicated in that same incident in 2010.

    Update at 8:22 a.m. ET. A Link Between Shootings:

    Numerous news organizations have reported that police sources tell them that a shooting that left one police officer dead on Thursday is linked to the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

    France 24 reports that the people suspected of committing that crime belong to the same organizations as the Kouachi brothers.

    Police have officially released a photograph of two suspects in that shooting in Montrouge. In that flier, police say the two — Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, and Amedy Coulibaly, 32 — are wanted in a murder committed in connection with a "terrorist organization."

    Update at 8:09 a.m. ET. Interior Minister At Scene Of Kosher Shop:

    France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is at the scene of an apparent hostage situation in eastern Paris.

    Television images have shown dozens of police officers in tactical gear in front of the kosher shop.

    The AP moved this alert:

    "Paris prosecutor: Gunman with hostages in kosher market in eastern Paris; police SWAT on scene."

    It's worth noting that it's not clear whether all of these events are related.

    Update at 7:52 a.m. ET. Background:

    In case you have not been paying attention, here's a quick summary of what's been happening in France:

    Wednesday morning, at least two gunmen entered the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that has in the past been threatened by Islamic extremists, and opened fire, killing 12 people, including four of the magazine's founding cartoonists.

    Police launched a massive manhunt for two suspects: Said and Chérif Kouachi, French citizens whom authorities had been watching for some time. Chérif was convicted on terrorism charges in 2008. He served 18 months for helping to funnel fighters from France to Iraq.

    Today, that manhunt seems to have come to a climax, because police believe the two men are cornered at a printing company's building in a city northeast of Paris.

    Update at 7:49 a.m. ET. Another Incident In Paris:

    Multiple news outlets, including AFP, France 24 and Le Monde, are reporting that an armed man has entered a kosher shop in eastern Paris and may have taken a hostage.

    There is no word on whether this incident, which police have not confirmed, might be related to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

    Update at 7:16 a.m. ET. Not Certain If There Are Hostages:

    On Twitter, an Interior Ministry spokesman said the men now in a standoff with police are "certain to be the Kouachi brothers." The spokesman said it was still not clear whether the two suspects had taken any hostages.

    "The priority is to establish a dialogue with the suspects," the spokesman added.

    He added that there had been no deaths or injuries at the time and that police had not launched an assault on the building.

    Update at 6:51 a.m. ET. Police Make Contact:

    Citing an unnamed French official, the AP says police have "made contact with terror suspects."

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    Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.