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Friday, January 9, 2015

ACMD POLITICS: Paris suspects cornered as second shooting occurs

By Jane C. Timm

The attacks began on Wednesday, when brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi opened fire in the Charlie Hebdo Paris office, leaving 12 dead in the heart of Paris. On Thursday, a police officer was shot and killed at the southern edge of Paris in Porte Chatillon in Montrouge and a street sweeper was wounded in an attack still under investigation. The French prosecutor’s office says he is “most probably” the shooter who shot and killed a police officer yesterday.
Police said they were looking for Coulibaly and a woman, Hayat Boumedienne, describing them as armed and dangerous and wanted in connection with the shooting of the police officer yesterday in Montrouge. 
On Friday morning, the Kouachi brothers were spotted by police early Friday in an Dammartin-en-Goële, just five miles from the international airport. According to officials in the town, there was an exchange of gunfire before the brothers fled into a family-owned printing shop in the town, 20 miles north of Paris. 
The Kouachi brothers are both Frenchmen in their 30s with ties to al Qaida, are “armed and dangerous” and sources tell NBC News the brothers told police at the site of their hostage situation they want to die as martyrs. 
MORNING JOE, 1/9/15, 7:22 AM ET

Paris suspects 'completely surrounded'

Local authorities confirmed the suspects have at least one hostage inside the business, but NBC News’  Richard Engel reported that a deputy mayor and a witness both said there could be as many as seven hostages inside the family-owned printing shop where the suspects were holding up.
The town is completely sealed off, with military-manned checkpoints; helicopters circled overhead while hundreds of heavily armed anti-terror and military personnel surround the town.
On Wednesday, the two brothers walked into the Paris offices of the satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo wielding automatic weapons and killed eight journalists, one guest, a maintenance worker, and one police officer. They killed a second officer outside as they fled.
A massive manhunt ensued. The suspects quickly abandoned their own vehicle as they fled Paris on Wednesday and carjacked a second one. The owner, speaking anonymously to French radio RTL said the suspects were calm, dressed in paramilitary garb, and seemed skilled with their weapons. The last thing they told the car owner, he said, before speeding off was that they were acting in the name of al Qaida in Yemen.
Over the next 48 hours, police pursued a series of leads as far as 140 miles north of Paris, detained a handful of individuals and called on the public for help.
On Friday,  France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, confirmed that a major police operation was underway near the airport in Dammartin-en-Goële. Helicopters were circling the town as a cold drizzle fell.
“We have signs of the presence of the terrorists, whom we want to stop,” Cazeneuve told reporters in Paris.
WAY TOO EARLY , 1/9/15, 5:49 AM ET

Suspects wish to die like martyrs: sources

“An operation is underway right now in Dammartin-en-Goële, which is mobilizing all services in the area,” Cazeneuve said. After a series of meetings early Friday, President François Hollande called the attack on the newspaper “the worst of the past 50 years.” He said the nation remained “shocked, considering that the perpetrators of these acts have not yet been arrested, and I am speaking before you as operations are ongoing.”
In Dammartin-en-Goele, residents and witnesses say the industrial town felt like it is under siege. 
The nearby Charles de Gaulle School had been locked down, student Marion Genay told NBC News via Twitter. “Dammartin is surrounded by the [armed police],” she said. “There is a very tense atmosphere, being locked in the high school.”
Nearly 100,000 security personnel were on alert across France on Friday, a day after military and police swarmed another small town — 50 miles outside Paris – after two masked robbers with machine guns matching the description of the Kouachi brothers held up a gas station in Villers-Cotteret, France.
Authorities believe one, if not both of the Kouachi brothers has had military training. Said Kouachi, 34, traveled to Yemen in 2011 to be trained by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, two senior U.S. counterterrorism officials told NBC News. AQAP is considered the most violent branch of al Qaeda. Cherif Kouachi, 32, was sentenced to prison in 2008 after a Paris court found him and six other men guilty of helping funnel fighters to Iraq. A Homeland Security official told NBC News that the brothers had been on the U.S. no-fly list “for years.”

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