Paris shooting: What happened?

It began with the massacre of 12 people at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan 7 and ended with police storming two hostage sites, killing two brothers wanted for the magazine attack and at least one suspected accomplice.

Here's a recap of how a spate of attacks unfolded in France over three days last week:

Jan 7: Gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo, 12 killed

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Two men armed with Kalashnikov rifles stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine known for satirical caricatures of Islam and other religions, at around 11.30am (6.30pm Singapore time).

They killed a maintenance man before shooting eight cartoonists and journalists, a police officer protecting editor Charb, and a visitor. The attackers then climbed into a black Citroen and exchanged fire with police vehicles, and coldly executed an injured police officer sprawled on the pavement.

Following a collision as they headed north, they abandoned their vehicle, hijacked another, and fled from Paris, where police lost their trail. Following the attack, France raised its alert status for Paris and northern regions to the highest level of "attack alert".

Police, acting on forensic evidence and an identity document found in the abandoned car, identified the attackers as brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, 32 and 34 respectively, and released their pictures in a public appeal for information. Anti-terrorist police then raided sites in the north-eastern towns of Reims and Charleville-Mezieres.

A third man suspected of helping the brothers - the 18-year-old brother-in-law of Cherif - turned himself in. But he was freed on Jan 10 after it turned out that he was in class at the time of the shooting and had nothing to do with it. 

Jan 8: Gunman killed policewoman

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A policewoman was shot dead by a man just outside Paris. The victim and a colleague had gone to the site in Montrouge to deal with a traffic accident. A car stopped and a man got out and shot at them before fleeing. Police sources said the assailant had been wearing a bullet-proof vest and had a handgun and assault rifle.

The authorities did not immediately identify a link with the Charlie Hebdo attack, but said the next day that there was in fact a "connection" between the two shootings.

On the same day, the Charlie Hebdo suspects robbed a petrol station in the northern Aisne region and the owner called police.Investigators found a dozen Molotov cocktails and two extremist flags in the getaway car. Thousands of security personnel were deployed.

US officials said the Kouachi brothers were on a US no-fly list and that Said had spent a few months training with Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Jan 9: Gunman, 4 others killed in supermarket siege; Charlie Hebdo attackers killed

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Shots were fired during a car chase on the N2 highway north-east of Paris by two men later identified as the Kouachi brothers. The men hijacked a car from a woman who said she recognised them as the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

One man was taken hostage at a printing business in Dammartin-en-Goele village near Charles de Gaulle airport. Police backed by helicopters swarmed the industrial park where it was located. Schools near the building were evacuated. 

As police closed in on them, the brothers called reporters from BFMTV from the printing firm to claim responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings in the name of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, who Cherif said financed them.

Meanwhile, a shoot-out broke out at a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, and staff and shoppers were taken hostage. The police released mugshots of the supermarket siege suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, as well as a suspected accomplice, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, who is believed to be Coulibaly's girlfriend.

Coulibaly, who spoke to French BFMTV by telephone during the siege, said he had coordinated his action with the Kouachi brothers. 

As night fell, police commandos launched synchronised raids on the printworks in Dammartin-en-Goele and the supermarket. Explosions and gunfire rocked both sites.

The brothers in Dammartin-en-Goele were killed in the assault, with a source telling AFP they ran firing at policemen. Their hostage emerged unharmed.

In the Jewish supermarket, five people were killed, including hostage-taker Coulibaly, and four were critically injured. Several captives were freed unharmed. In a telling final detail, revealed by BFMTV, the supermarket attacker did not hang up the phone properly, allowing the police to overhear him. And it was as he knelt to do his evening prayer that they stormed the building.

Security sources confirmed later that he was also responsible for the murder of the policewoman in Montrouge on Jan 8.

Although police identified Boumeddiene as his suspected accomplice, it emerged days later that she had arrived at an Istanbul airport on Jan 2 via Madrid, and crossed into Syria on Jan 8. Those dates would put her in Turkey before the violence in Paris began, and leaving for Syria while the attackers were still on the loose.

Source: AFP, Reuters