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Charlie Hebdo trial: How the terror attacks unfolded five years ago

Charlie Hebdo trial: How the terror attacks unfolded five years ago
Copyright AP / Gonzalo Fuentes
Copyright AP / Gonzalo Fuentes
By Julien PavyPascale Davies
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France will reopen one of the darkest chapters in its modern history as dozens go on trial for the terror attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.


France is reopening one of the most painful chapters in its history on Wednesday.

Fourteen alleged accomplices of the 2015 attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket will go on trial, with three suspects being tried in absentia. It will be the first terror trial to be filmed.

The bloodshed heralded a wave of similar jihadist attacks in France: the deadliest was in November 2015 at the Bataclan music venue in Paris and other parts of the French capital, leaving 130 people dead.

This is how the Charlie Hebdo attacks unfolded five years ago.

Cartoonists slayed

On January 7, 2015, at around 11:30 am armed men force their way into the premises of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and begin their gun rampage.

Shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest), brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi kill 11 people on the premises.

Eight employees, a guest at the magazine, a maintenance worker and a police officer are killed.

Among those who died at the magazine's office were some of France's most famous cartoonists including its director Stephane Charbonnier, known as "Charb", 47, Jean Cabut, known as "Cabu", 76, and Georges Wolinski, 80.

The brothers flee the building but encounter police officer Ahmed Merabet, who is patrolling the area.

They shoot him at point-blank range, claiming their 12th victim.

The brothers say they acted in the name of Al Qaida to "avenge the prophet" after the magazine's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Tributes paid outside the former Charlie Hebdo office in 2015.JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP

The cartoons no-taboo style depicting the prophet is controversial, as some Muslims deem them offensive.

But the bloodshed invokes a wider wave of emotion that freedom of expression is under attack.

Before the brothers are identified by police as the killers, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, turns himself into police after he becomes a suspect in the attacks.

But police clear him of involvement after witnesses verify he was at school during the attacks.

Police officer killed

A manhunt begins after the Kouachi brothers are named as the prime suspects of the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 8.

The same morning, a 27-year-old policewoman is shot dead in Montrouge, on the outskirts of Paris, during a routine traffic check.

The gunman is dressed all in black, attire similar to the Charlie Hebdo attackers.


Amedy Coulibaly carried out the attack but is not yet named by police. He is an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi who he met in prison.

Police question if the attacks are coordinated.

Meanwhile, the search for the Kouachi brothers narrows after they are reported for stealing food and gas from a gas station near Villers-Cotterets, north-west of Paris.

Attack on a Jewish supermarket

On January 9, Coulibaly enters the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket in the east of Paris. He is then identified by police who link him to the Montrouge attack.

He takes four Jewish men hostage in the Kosher store and kills them.


Coulibaly records a video saying the attacks were carried out in the name of the Islamic State group and that they are coordinated.

At 5 pm local time the siege ends after police storm the supermarket and shoot Coulibaly dead.

15 hostages are rescued.

Kouachi brothers on the run

On the same day, the Kouachi brothers are spotted dozens of kilometres north of the capital.

The manhunt ends at a printing works in Dammartin-en-Goële.


The attackers take the manager and an employee hostage.

The siege ends after the brothers are surrounded by police and shot dead. The employees are freed.

Nationwide march against the attacks

The slogan "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") emerges and goes viral as people express solidarity with the victims of the bloodshed.

While the satirical magazine willingly crosses the line with its secular and political content, which offends many, the country united in its grief.

Around 3.5 million people take part in a nationwide march in France defending freedoms and condemning the attacks.

JOEL SAGET/AFP or licensors
A gathering held in Paris in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.JOEL SAGET/AFP or licensors

In Paris, a crowd of 1.5 million people march in the anti-terrorism rally. They are joined by some 40 world leaders, including French President at the time Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Légion d'Honneur

Former President Hollande award France's highest honour the Légion d'Honneur to the three police officers killed in the attacks at a memorial service on January 13.

On the same day, funeral services are held in Israel for the four Jewish men killed at the kosher store. Netanyahu attends the service.

Al Qaeda claims responsibility

On January 14, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula says it is responsible for the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The group says the attack took years in the making.

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