PARIS - A dramatic, violent day ended in France with a hail of gunfire at two separate hostage scenes. Dead are the suspected militants behind the Charlie Hebdo attack, the brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi -- killed by French law enforcement in Dammartin-en-Goele, reports Clarissa Ward.
An equally tense siege unfolded at a kosher supermarket in Paris, where Koauachi brother ally, Amedy Coulibaly, was killed after a standoff that lasted five hours, reports Elizabeth Palmer.
Police commandos suddenly swung into action at the supermarket. First - with percussion grenades, then storming both doors of the market. After a burst of heavy gunfire, with at least one body visible on the floor, the SWAT team officers -- facing return fire -- went in. For a few seconds, it was mayhem. Then the hostage taker was shot.
The terrified hostages sprinted out, steered in the direction of safety by the police.
French media says the police tapped into the supermarket's surveillance camera system and had communicated with one of the hostages hidden in a fridge.
The siege began at lunch time when a man ran into the Kosher supermarket shouting, "You know who I am!" according to witnesses.
Legions of police flooded into the area, which has a large immigrant population, and started evacuating residents. Then SWAT teams took up positions around the store.
Amedy Coulibaly was born south of Paris in 1982. He had convictions for armed robbery and was radicalized sometime in the last decade.
Midway through Friday's hostage-siege, a man claiming to be Coulibaly called a Paris TV station and underlined his links with the Kouachi brothers.
"From the start," he told the reporter, "we planned these actions together."
He also said he'd already killed four hostages and that he attacked the market because it was Jewish.
Photographs released by Le Monde newspaper show him with convicted terrorist Djamel Beghal, supposedly under house arrest in France and Coulibaly's spiritual mentor.
The photos show the two training with weapons in a remote forested area along with Coulibaly's long-time girlfriend, Hayat Boumedienne, seen in one photo posing with a crossbow.
Both she and Coulibaly had been on the French security services' radar for years, but there was no evidence to alert them to this week's terrorist attacks. Police are still looking for Boumedienne.
Friday night, the French prosecutor outlined more explicit links between the three suspects. He said Boumedienne and the wife of Cherif Kouachi had been in touch by telephone 500 times in 2014.
Coulibaly is the man who killed a female police officer in Paris on Thursday. Officials say he'd threatened to kill his hostages at the store -- if the police tried to capture the Kouachi brothers, who were holed up at a printing plant 28 miles northeast of Paris.
Around the same time as the siege that killed Coulibaly, the tense, three-day long hunt for the Kouachi brothers finally ended in a blaze of bullets and explosions, reports Clarissa Ward.
The two men had kept security forces at bay for more than seven hours.
It started at around nine o'clock Friday morning, when the pair car-jacked a grey Peugeot from a woman who recognized them from their wanted posters.
They drove to the nearby village of Dammartin-en-Goële. Security forces flooded the area, cutting off access to the village. Helicopters flew overhead while snipers took positions on nearby rooftops.
Children were evacuated from local schools, shops were shut, and residents told to remain at home. Just eight miles away at Charles de Gaulle International Airport, two runways were temporarily shut down.
At 10:00 a.m. a French television station called the printing office and Cherif picked up. He told them they would not kill women and children, unlike the West does, according to the news channel.
But the Kouachi brothers were unaware that an employee with the printing company was hiding in the building throughout the siege, feeding the police information.
At 5:00 p.m. the brothers burst out of the front door firing their weapons. Assault police responded with bullets and grenades. Security forces say when they searched the warehouse after the raid they did find a rocket propelled grenade. The building was also booby trapped, said the police.
Attorney General Eric Holder will be flying to France this weekend to meet with some of Europe's top leaders to discuss two main issues: what to do with foreign fighters returning home and what to do with the growing problem of lone wolf attacks.