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CHARLIE HEBDO
ATTACK
The three days that shook France


Beginning on the morning of January 7, 2015, a series of terrorist attacks stunned Paris. In the first incident, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi killed 12 people after storming the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, later claiming to be acting in the name of al Qaeda in Yemen.

A day later Amedy Coulibaly, who had links to the Kouachi brothers, killed a policewoman in the district of Montrouge. Coulibaly claimed to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State group. He would go on to kill four more people and take hostages at a kosher supermarket the following day. In total, 17 people died in three days of attacks. All three gunmen were later killed in nearly simultaneous police raids on the evening of Friday, January 9.

In the aftermath of the attacks, an estimated 1.5 million French people took to the streets of Paris in a unity march and to reaffirm France’s commitment to freedom of speech. The attacks also sparked a national debate about the radicalisation of France’s disenfranchised young people. All three attackers were born and raised in France.

WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY

CHARLIE HEBDO

It is publication day for the satirical weekly, and as issue 1,177 of Charlie Hebdo hit newspaper stands, some of France’s most famous satirical cartoonists are holding an editorial meeting at the magazine’s headquarters in the 11th arrondissement.

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11:30am - ATTACK

Two gunmen storm Charlie Hebdo’s offices. They shoot dead 11 people, including five cartoonists, two columnists, a copy editor, a guest at the meeting, a police officer and a maintenance worker.

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GUNFIGHT IN THE STREET

Two men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas and carrying kalashnikovs, emerge into the street.

The gunmen leave in a black car but are met by police on the neighbouring street, Allée Verte. They fire at police, forcing them to reverse their car.

GUNMEN LEAVE THE SCENE

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TWELFTH VICTIM

Minutes later, the attackers shoot dead Ahmed Merabet, a local policeman who had come to help his colleagues.

GUNMEN ESCAPE PARIS

The pair crash into a woman's car at Place du Colonel Fabien. Shortly after, they force a pensioner out of his car on the Rue de Meaux. They leave Paris in the stolen car via the Porte de Pantin.

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MANHUNT BEGINS

Inside the first getaway car, police find an ID card bearing the name Said Kouachi. They also find DNA samples belonging to his younger brother, Cherif.

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#jesuischarlie

#jesuischarlie

The rallying cry “Je suis Charlie” appears first on social media then among the crowds gathering at the Place de la République in Paris.

Spontaneous gatherings

In cities across France – including Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lyon – tens of thousands of people gather spontaneously to denounce the attacks.

What is Charlie Hebdo?

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Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures frequently caused outrage by poking fun at religion and politics. They were not popular with everyone, but in killing the country's most famous cartoonists the gunmen had targeted a core French value: freedom of speech.

An attack against France

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French President François Hollande declares the next day, Thursday, to be a national day of mourning.

Today the entire republic of France was attacked. Its principles of freedom of speech, culture, creation, pluralism and democracy – that is what the terrorists targeted."

François Hollande , French president.

France in mourning

THURSDAY 8 JANUARY

8:05am - A SECOND ATTACK

The day of mourning begins with another tragedy. A gunman kills a trainee policewoman in Montrouge, a suburb south of Paris. Clarissa Jean-Philippe had been dealing with a traffic incident and was unarmed when she was shot dead. The interior minister warns against presuming a link between the shooting and the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

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GUNMEN ON THE RUN

Police begin looking for the three main suspects. The first major lead comes when the Kouachi brothers rob a service station near the town of Villers-Cotterêts in the Picardy region, 80kms northeast of Paris.

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SILENCE AT MIDDAY

At noon, France holds a minute of silence to commemorate the victims.

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FRIDAY 9 JANUARY

MANHUNT CONTINUES

On Friday morning, after spending the night in a Picardy forest, the Kouachi brothers steal another car near the village of Montagny-Sainte-Felicité. The driver alerts the police. Police pursued the brothers as they began driving in the direction of Paris. Some 20 minutes later, they abandon the stolen car in an industrial park in Dammartin-en-Goële, 40kms northeast of Paris.

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8:30am - CORNERED

The Kouachi brothers exchange fire with a brigade of police before fleeing on foot. They enter a print workshop where they are cornered by police.

LOCKDOWN

Security forces surround the printing complex. Police helicopters arrive and snipers are positioned on nearby roofs.

EVACUATION

Parts of the industrial park are evacuated but people working too close to the print workshop are ordered to stay put, as it is too dangerous for them to venture outside.

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HOSTAGES

When the Kouachi brothers arrive the workshop’s manager, Michel Catalano, tells employee Lilian Lepère to hide upstairs. Catalano is alone with the brothers for nearly two hours. He bandages up a gunshot wound on Said Kouachi's neck and is later allowed to leave unharmed.

Montrouge killer reappears

HOSTAGES AT THE HYPERCACHER

In the early afternoon, a gunman storms a busy kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris. He is identified as Amedy Coulibaly and is believed to be responsible for killing the policewoman in Montrouge the day before.

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ANOTHER LOCKDOWN

Police quickly cordon off the area surrounding the Hypercacher supermarket.

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HOSTAGES

Police believe Coulibaly has taken at least a dozen hostages. Some are hiding inside a cold room and some are in the main shop with Coulibaly.

THREATS AND NEGOTIATIONS

Coulibaly threatens to kill his hostages if police harm the Kouachi brothers. A police negotiator speaks to Coulibaly by phone and concludes that he is ready to die in a fight.

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POLICE HOLD OFF

Police outside the print workshop have little choice but to wait until their fellow officers have brought the hostage situation at the Hypercacher under control.

Final gunbattles

4:56pm - KOUACHI BROTHERS OPEN FIRE

Attention suddenly switches back to Dammartin-en-Goële, where the Kouachi brothers begin shooting at police. Both are killed in a brief gun battle.

POLICE STORM KOSHER MARKET

Just after 5pm, the police force their way into the kosher supermarket. Coulibaly is killed as he runs towards them, shooting.

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VICTIMS

Before the police moved in, Coulibaly had killed four of his hostages: Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and François-Michel Saada.

SURVIVORS

This footage shows police freeing hostages from the Hypercacher. Lilian Lepère, who had spent all day hiding inside the print workshop in Dammartin-en-Goële, is evacuated through a window when the siege is over.

"March for the Republic"

SUNDAY 11 JANUARY

HUGE TURNOUT

Some 3.7 million people across France march to show their commitment to freedom of speech and to denounce terrorism in a Marche Républicaine. The biggest rally is in Paris, where an estimated 1.5 million people take to the streets.

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WORLD LEADERS SHOW SUPPORT

Nearly 50 leaders from around the world join President Hollande at the head of the Paris march.

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"JE SUIS CHARLIE"

The slogan “Je suis Charlie” becomes a rallying cry at demonstrations in France and around the world.

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APPLAUSE FOR POLICE

Marchers clap as police vans drive through the crowds

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TUESDAY 13 JANUARY

THE MARSEILLAISE IN PARLIAMENT

Members of parliament sing France’s national anthem at the Assemblée Nationale, or lower house. It is the first time ruling and opposition MPs have sung the Marseillaise together since World War I ended in 1918.

Victims

Charlie Hebdo, Wednesday 7 January

  • Frédéric Boisseau, maintenance worker
  • Franck Brinsolaro, police officer
  • Jean “Cabu” Cabut, cartoonist
  • Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, cartoonist and the magazine’s editor-in-chief
  • Philippe Honoré, cartoonist
  • Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, cartoonist
  • Georges Wolinski, cartoonist
  • Elsa Cayat, columnist
  • Bernard Maris, columnist
  • Mustapha Ourrad, copy editor
  • Michel Renaud, a guest at the editorial meeting
  • Ahmed Merabet, police officer

Montrouge, Thursday 8 January

  • Clarissa Jean-Philippe, police officer

Hypercacher, Friday 9 January

  • Yoav Hattab
  • Philippe Braham
  • Yohan Cohen
  • François-Michel Saada

Credits



An interactive report by Claire Williams for FRANCE 24
Texts by Claire Williams
Edited by Khatya Chhor
Design, graphics and development: Studio Graphique France Médias Monde