The two brothers suspected of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks are killed, after being surrounded by police at an industrial estate in north east of Paris, according to reports in France.
Several bursts of gunfire and explosions were heard just before 4pm GMT at an industrial estate in north east Paris where the two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris were cornered.
Le Monde say that the suspects were killed by security forces in an assault.
Smoke had been seen above the building where the Kouachi brothers were holed up since this morning.
According to local police, a hostage believed to have been held by the brothers has been rescued.
Earlier, special forces were reported to have surrounded the industrial unit where the suspects were thought to be holed up.
The suspects were thought to have taken refuge in one of the small grey buildings just south west of the main warehouse complex (see image above).
The French prosecutor’s office denied reports from French media that one person had been killed in a shoot-out in the area of the town.
Police were reportedly engaged in a car chase north east of Paris on Friday morning – the third day of the manhunt for the two Charlie Hebdo suspects.
The minister of the interior confirmed an operation was under way to detain the suspects north east of Paris.
Leave, we don’t kill civilians anyhow One of the Charlie Hebdo suspects
A salesman reportedly came face-to-face with one of the Charlie Hebdo suspects at the industrial complex and “shook hands” with him.
“When I arrived my client came out with an armed man who said he was from the police. My client told me to leave so I left,” said the man named as Didier who was there to meet a colleague called Michel, according to a report from the Agence France-Presse news service.
The suspect said to the salesman: “Leave, we don’t kill civilians anyhow” – which aroused the salesman’s suspicions who then called police.
“It could have been a policeman if he hadn’t told me ‘we don’t kill civilians’. They were heavily armed like elite police,” he added.
On Thursday evening, police special forces and armoured cars had descended on the rural region of Picardy, north east of Paris – the day after 12 people were killed in a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Suspects Cherif and Said Kouachi, both in their early thirties, reportedly robbed at a petrol station near Villers-Cotterets in Picardy on Thursday.
Armed and masked officers searched house to house and helicopters were flying over the search area in darkness for several hours on Thursday night as the search intensified.
Police earlier said the two brothers, of Algerian descent, were armed and dangerous. A third suspect surrendered to police soon after the shooting.
The two men were said to be in a grey Renault Clio with weapons in the back.
They fired shots and stole food and petrol, according to French media reports, and later appeared to have abandoned their car and fled into a forest.
Police suspect the two gunmen may have been headed for the border with Belgium.
The attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo was the worst French terrorist attack for half a century.
Twelve people were killed and 11 more injured before the attackers sped away from Paris in a second getaway car.
Police prosecutors said a third suspect – named as 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad – had turned himself in to police at a station in Charleville-Mézières, a small town near France’s border with Belgium.
Bernard Cazeneuve, minister for the interior, said nine people were in custody on Thursday evening in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
It has emerged that the Kouachi brothers were both on the US no-fly list.
The Kouachi brothers were also on a British watch and no-fly list to prevent them from entering the UK or passing through a British airport.
US intelligence placed the brothers on the list at the same time as Britain, and questions have been raised about how closely the brothers were monitored by French authorities.
A senior US official told AFP that one of the brothers was believed to have trained in Yemen with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The attack appears to have been well-planned, having taken place during Charlie Hebdo’s editorial meeting.
The first image from inside the office after the shooting was posted on Twitter, showing blood spattered along a hallway and on papers strewn on the floor.
— Alexandre Pouchard (@AlexPouchard) January 8, 2015
Graphic video footage was posted online showing two men dressed in black shooting and injuring a police officer in the street before running over to shoot the officer dead on the pavement.
Charlie Hebdo has angered Muslims in the past by printing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Its offices were targeted in a 2011 arson attack, and editor-in-chief Stephanie Charbonnier was included in an al-Qaeda wanted list published in 2013.
France remains on its highest level of alert after the attack.
MI5’s spy chief Andrew Parker said the agency is providing “full support” to their French counterparts in the hunt for the gunmen and the jihadi terrorist organisations behind the massacre.
A day of mourning was held on Thursday with flags lowered to half-mast across the country. People gathered for a minute’s silence outside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
The lights on the Eiffel tower were turned off on Thursday evening as a mark of respect.