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Paris gunman threatens to kill hostages if police storm terrorist brothers

WATCH ABOVE: Video from France24 showing scene at a Paris kosher supermarket as hostages are freed after authorities stormed the supermarket killing the hostage taker, according to reports.

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Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, have been on the run since the deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices on Wednesday that left 12 people dead.

Friday morning a gunman took at least five people hostage at a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris.

The hostage-taker is a suspect in the shooting death of a female French police officer in Montrouge on Thursday.

At least two people have been killed in the supermarket hostage drama.

Paris police released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly, 33, as a suspect in the killing Thursday of a female police officer in Montrouge, and the official named him as the man holed up in the market. Police say the man is armed with an automatic rifle and some hostages have been gravely wounded.

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He said a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, 26, is the gunman’s accomplice.

WATCH: A witness describes the situation around a kosher supermarket in Paris as a gunman opened fire and took hostages.

A police source told Reuters earlier that Coulibaly was a member of the same jihadist group as the two suspects in the attack at weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Police have ordered all shops closed in a famed Jewish neighbourhood in central Paris, the Associated Press reported.

The mayor’s office in Paris announced the closures Friday of shops along the Rosiers street in Paris’ Marais neighbourhood, in the heart of the tourist district.

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, and Amedy Coulibaly, 32,. Paris police handout

Meanwhile, the heavily armed brothers were cornered inside a printing house near Charles de Gaulle airport.

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Xavier Castaing, chief spokesman for Paris regional police, spoke as a massive operation unfolded Friday in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris.

Helicopters and hundreds of security forces backed by ambulances streamed to the town, where the brothers were believed to be holed up.

Citing local TV reports, the Associated Press said phone contact has been made with the suspects.

VIDEO GALLERY:

“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.

A spokesman for Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport said two runways have been closed as a result of the police operation.

Several schools have been evacuated in the town.

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Local media spoke with a client of the printing firm where the gunmen are holed up.

“It’s a family business,” the unidentified man told France 24. “It’s run by Michel Catalano, his wife and his son, as well as two employees.”

On Friday, a Yemeni security official told the Associated Press that Said Kouachi is suspected of having fought for al-Qaida in the country.

Late Thursday, authorities focused their search around the towns Villers-Cotterets and Crepy-en-Valois northeast of Paris. Two men resembling the suspects robbed a gas station in Villers-Cotterets early Thursday, and police swarmed the site while helicopters hovered above.

The owner recognized the brothers and alerted police.

A few hours later, the owner of a local restaurant at Longpont told his customers to leave the restaurant because he’d just been informed by police that there are armed men in the woods.

Police have come from Paris and from various other towns in the region to search for the pair.

AFP reported nearly 88,000 members of security forces are involved in the manhunt.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said nine people have been taken into police custody as part of the investigation.

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A United States intelligence official told the Associated Press on Thursday the brothers were in the U.S. database of suspected terrorists, and had been on an American no-fly list for years.

The youngest of three suspects sought in Wednesday’s brutal killings had surrendered to police early Thursday. Hamyd Mourad, 18, surrendered at a police station in a small town in the eastern region after learning his name was linked to the attacks in the news and social media, said Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre. She did not specify his relationship to the Kouachi brothers.

READ MORE: Paris gunmen were ‘well-prepared’ for Charlie Hebdo attack

French authorities were hunting for three French nationals identified as Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, both in their early 30s, from the Paris region as well as 18-year-old Hamyd, believed to be from the northeastern city of Reims.

One French official told the Associated Press Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges and served an 18-month prison sentence for helping send fighters to join Iraq’s insurgency.

Armed police moved into the city of Reims, in France’s Champagne country east of Paris, reportedly searching for the suspects Wednesday evening and into the earlier hours of Thursday.

French prosecutor Francois Molins said Charlie Hebdo staff members were gathered for a meeting when the assailants opened fire, killing eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor. He said another 11 people were wounded — four of them seriously.

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IN PHOTOS: Manhunt for suspects following Paris terror attack

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Members of the French police special force RAID walk to take a position on January 9, 2015 in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
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Police officers detain youth who was riding a scooter outside a hostage situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan.9, 2015. AP Photo/Francois Mori
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French police officers prepare to take up positions near Porte de Vincennes in Paris on January 9, 2015. Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
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People are led away from the scene as Police mobilize with reports of a hostage situation at Port de Vincennes on January 9, 2015 in Paris, France. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
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French police special forces evacuate local residents on January 9, 2015 in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, after at least one person was injured when a gunman opened fire at a kosher grocery store. Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
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Members of the French police intervention force (FIPN) carry out searches in Fleury, northern France, on January 8, 2015. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
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Members of a French police special forces unit carry out searches in Fleury, northern France, on January 8, 2015. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
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A member of the French police intervention force (FIPN) looks through the scope of his rifle as during searches in Fleury, northern France, on January 8. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
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Members of the French police special force GIPN carry out searches in Corcy, northern France, on January 8, 2015. Francois Lo Presti/AFP/Getty Images
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French police officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, France, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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French riot officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, France, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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French riot officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, France, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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SWAT police officer patrol in the village of Longpont, north east of Paris, hunting down the two heavily armed brothers suspected in the massacre at Charlie Hebdo newspaper, Thursday, Jan.8, 2015. AP Photo/Michel Spingler
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Police are seen during an operation in the 'Croix-Rouge' suburb of Reims, northern France early January 8, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI)
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Police are seen through a window during an operation in the 'Croix-Rouge' suburb of Reims, northern France early January 8, 2015. ( AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI)
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Police are seen during an operation in the 'Croix-Rouge' suburb of Reims, northern France early January 8, 2015. ( AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS NASCIMBEN)
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Members of the French national police intervention group arrive at the police station in Charleville Mezieres in northeastern France following a deadly attack in Paris on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, on January 7, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTI)

Among those killed was the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, Bernard Maris, an economist who was a contributor to the newspaper, cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous, and Jean Cabut, known by the pen-name Cabu.

Police union spokesman Christophe Crepin told the Associated Press the gunmen knew exactly whom they wanted to target. “(They) went straight for Charb and his police bodyguard, killing both immediately with automatic weapons, then firing on others,” Crepin said.

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The gunmen then fled from the building and escaped in a waiting car, which was later found abandoned.

During their escape, the masked men encountered three separate police patrols, where gunfire was exchanged.

READ MORE: Why was Charlie Hebdo newspaper targeted in the Paris shooting?

Video showed the gunmen firing on a police officer, with one gunman walking up to the wounded officer and executing him at point-blank range.

According to Molins, witnesses heard the men shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great) during the assault.

Speaking with the Associated Press, a witness described the attackers as “methodical.”

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Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015. ANNE GELBARD/AFP/Getty Images. Anne Gelbard (AFP)/Getty Images
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A photo taken on January 7, 2015 shows a bullet's impact on the window of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving at least 11 people dead. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving at least 10 people dead. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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Firefighters and police officers gather in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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Firefighters and police officers gather in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015 and treat victims, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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A victim is evacuated on a stretcher on January 7, 2015 after armed gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, leaving at least 11 people dead. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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Firefighters and police officers gather in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU
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Police forces gather in street outside the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU

“They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace,” the witness, who did not want to be identified, told the news agency. “They ran back to the car. The moment they got in, the car drove off almost casually.”

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Amateur video, shot from a nearby rooftop, shows at least two men dressed in black exchanging gunfire with police before fleeing.

READ MORE: Ottawa satirical magazine ‘Frank’ to publish ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoons

Local media reported the men saying that they had “avenged the prophet.”

The weekly magazine has previously drawn condemnation from Muslims and had been repeatedly threatened for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial sketches.

A witness who works nearby, Benoit Bringer, told the iTele network he saw multiple masked men armed with automatic weapons at the newspaper’s office in central Paris. The attackers went to the second floor and started firing indiscriminately in the newsroom, said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.

“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” he said.

with files from The Associated Press

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