The people of France woke up to just another day on Wednesday January 7, back to work and school after the holidays, with the winter sales the main topic of conversation. Over the course of the next three days, though, an extraordinary chain of events was to rock France to its core. The country was confronted with terrorism in a way it had not experienced in recent memory. By attacking the freedom of expression, the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings – and, separately, the murderers of a young policewoman – struck a raw nerve that brought the people, this time united, into the streets with the sympathies of the rest of the world firmly behind them in support.
Wednesday, January 7
11:30 a.m. local time, CET
Paris, 10 rue des Armettes. The offices of satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo. Gunmen kill 12 people including four of France’s best-loved cartoonists, journalists and one policeman. They get away in a stolen Citroen.
They steal another car after crashing the first one. The government raises the alert level.
French President François Hollande holds press conference on the situation. Worldwide political reactions follow
Paris, Place de la République. Tens of thousands of people gather spontaneously to denounce the attacks. Demonstrations in other French cities and in many World’s capitals follow
The suspects names are released. They were identified after leaving an ID card in the first abandoned car. Police operations lead to first arrests in connection with the killings.
Thursday, January 8
Paris, Montrouge. A new shooting. One policewoman, 26, is seriously wounded before later dying of her injuries. Initial reports suggest the incident is not related to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The fact that there was a link was confirmed on Friday.
The suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings are seen driving to the Picardy region, north of Paris. A police manhunt starts.
Several attacks against mosques reported throughout France
A minute of silence is observed in France and in many cities around the world.
French President hosts meetings with main French political parties
France’s domestic counter-terrorism and law enforcement unit GIGN continues the manhunt in Corcy, in the Picardy region. More than 88,000 security agents mobilised after terror alert level raised.
Citizens come back to Paris’ Place de la République to mourn the victims
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says there’s no link between the Montrouge killings and the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Friday, January 9
Suspects in the Charlie Hebdo case hijack another car and try to drive towards Paris. They stop at an industrial area in Dammartin en Goele, about 40 kilometers from Paris. Huge police deployment.
Reports confirm there was a shooting in the area and that suspects have at least one hostage. They hide in the premesis of Creation Tendance Decouverte, a printing company.
Paris prosecutor denies the initial reports of deaths at Dammartin en Goele
Police evacuate children from schools close to the building where suspects are hiding.
The connection between the Montrouge shootings and the Charlie Hebdo massacre is confirmed by police
Reports emerge that negotiators have contacted suspects directly. They reply they “want to die like martyrs”.
French President François Hollande joins the “situation room” at the Interior Ministry to oversight the operations.
Second hostage crisis erupts. Gunman takes hostages at a Kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. He reportedly tells police “you know who I am”. Contradictory reports on the number of victims. Five hostages taken.
Police release a witness appeal with the photos of the suspects involved in Montrouge shooting.
Police launch assault on the building where the Charlie Hebdo killings suspects are hiding.
Police launch assault to the Kosher supermarket in Eastern Paris.
Both hostage situations end. The three suspects all confirmed dead.