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'Charlie Hebdo' Timeline: A Look Back at the Attacks That Brought France to a Standstill

On the first anniversary of the bloody assault on the satirical magazine's offices, here is a review of how the events unfolded that day and over the following days, as shootings persisted and authorities moved quickly to respond.
January 7, 2016, 7:50pm
Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

January 7, 2015
At around 11.30 am, Chérif Kouachi, 32, and his brother Saïd, 34, follow a postwoman into the building housing the offices of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo. Armed with assault rifles, they gun down 11 people — many of them staff members of the magazine who had gathered for a morning editorial meeting. As the brothers leave the building, they shoot and kill a 42-year-old police officer before fleeing from the scene in a car driven by an accomplice.


Within the hour, Prime Minister Manuel Valls raises France's Vigipirate security plan to its highest "terror alert" level, as police officers are rushed to major media organizations and places of worship in and around the capital.

French President François Hollande visits the scene of the attack at 1 pm, accompanied by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. An hour later, he convenes a special meeting of officials and ministers at the Elysée presidential palace.

By the end of the afternoon, the attack has drawn international condemnation. US President Barack Obama offers his condolences after the "horrific shooting." Others refer to the attack as barbaric and begin to describe the killings as an act of terrorism.

Meanwhile, French law enforcement officers hunt for the suspects, who have reportedly left the city in their car. Spontaneous rallies of defiance erupt across the country, drawing thousands out into the streets.

At 6 pm, French prosecutor François Molins addresses reporters in Paris, confirming that 12 people have died in the attack, and a further 11 are wounded. Molins notes that the investigation is ongoing and calls on the media to "act responsibly" while the manhunt is still underway.

Hollande addresses the nation on television at 8 pm, calling the victims "heroes." The president declares Thursday, January 8, a day of national mourning.

With the suspects still at large, the criminal division of the Paris police releases images of the Kouachi brothers and appeals for witnesses to come forth with any information about their possible whereabouts.


January 8, 2015
Newspapers in France and around the world express solidarity with the slain cartoonists and with the other victims of the attack. Some newspapers, including the Washington Post, reprint some of the magazine's most controversial cartoons in tribute.

Speaking on French radio channel RTL shortly before 8 am, Valls urges the public to "let the police do its work." He confirms that the two suspects were known to the authorities, and alludes to an "unprecedented terror threat," both from within the country and from abroad.

At 8:10 am, a female police officer and a street sweeper are injured in a shootout in Montrouge, a suburb in the south of Paris. The gunman flees the scene and the police woman, aged 25, succumbs to her injuries at around 11 am.

At roughly 10:30 am, the Kouachi brothers are spotted stealing from a gas station in the northern French town of Villers-Cotterêts.

That afternoon, representatives from several French political parties confirm that they will attend a solidarity march in the capital on January 11. France's anti-immigration National Front party, a favorite target of Charlie Hebdo, is not invited to join the rally.

The government extends the highest security alert level already in place in Paris to the northern Picardy region, where the Kouachi are believed to be hiding out.

Later in the afternoon, the French daily Libération announces that it will host the surviving members of Charlie Hebdo's editorial team "for as long as they need." The newspaper already hosted the magazine in 2011, after the weekly's headquarters were destroyed in an arson attack.


January 9, 2015
Around 9 am, Interior Minister Cazeneuve confirms that a police operation is underway in the town of Dammartin-en-Goële, 25 miles northeast of Paris. Following a shootout with officers, the brothers storm a printing works, which is soon surrounded by police.

The Montrouge gunman is identified as an acquaintance of Chérif Kouachi, and a link between the two attacks begins to emerge.

Hollande, Valls, and Cazeneuve are briefed on the unfolding police operation at around 11 am.

Around 1:30 pm, gunfire erupts at a kosher supermarket in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood, in eastern Paris. The gunman, a 32-year-old Frenchman named Amédy Coulibaly, takes several hostages inside the store.

Shortly before 3 pm, authorities confirm that Coulibaly is also responsible for the attack in Montourge. The area around the supermarket is closed off, as Coulibaly executes two of the hostages and threatens to kill more if the police launches a raid against the Kouachi brothers' hideout.

Police officers storm the printworks in Dammartin-en-Goële at around 5 pm. Ambulances are spotted near the scene of the intervention. Minutes later, police end the siege in Porte de Vincennes by storming the store and killing Coulibaly in a shootout.

Shortly after 6 pm, authorities announce the Kouachi brothers have also been killed in a police shootout. In total, four hostages are killed and two others are wounded. Three police officers are also injured in the raid.


Hollande addresses the nation from the Élysée presidential palace once more at 7:50 pm. Calling for "vigilance, unity, and mobilization," he also announces that "many world leaders" are planning to attend the memorials for the victims.

January 11, 2015
The German daily Hamburger Morgenpost is targeted in an early-morning arson attack after reprinting several Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Across France, more than four million people take to the streets to participate in unity marches organized by political groups and civilians.

In Paris, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among a group of world leaders who march alongside French officials.

A video surfaces that apparently shows Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Authorities in France hunt for Coulibaly's girlfriend.

January 12, 2015
Anti-Islam protesters march in Germany, some of them brandishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

In the eastern German town of Dresden, nearly 25,000 people join a weekly protest organized by the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA.

January 13, 2015
Deputies in the French National Assembly pay tribute to the victims. Prime Minister Valls unveils a package of "exceptional" anti-terror measures. Lawmakers vote to continue a campaign of airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq.

In some schools in France, some students refused to comply with a minute of silence to honor the victims of the attacks.


January 14, 2015
Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen releases video claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack. In the video, Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, offers his "congratulations" over the attack and promises further "tragedy and horror."

Charlie Hebdo releases its "survivors' issue" that day, which sells out within minutes. The weekly's latest cover, featuring a tearful Prophet Muhammad under the caption "all is forgiven," triggers mixed reactions and is banned in some countries.

François Hollande visits France's nuclear Charles-de-Gaulle warship to address troops preparing for deployment.

January 15, 2015
Three gunmen open fire on police officers in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers. Two of the suspects are killed in the shootout, the third is arrested. According to Belgian authorities, the men were planning a "large scale" terror attack on Belgian soil.

January 19, 2015
Violent demonstrations against Charlie Hebdo leave 10 people dead in Niger, as protesters set churches, bars, and vehicles ablaze in anger over the satirical magazine's new cover featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Tens of thousands of protesters march in the streets of the Chechen capital of Grozny after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov urges the faithful to demonstrate against the "immorality" of Charlie Hebdo.

January 21, 2015
Valls unveils a series of measures to contain radicalization and combat terrorism, including the creation of 2,680 new jobs and the spending of 425 million euros (nearly $492 million) for a variety of national defense measures.


January 28, 2015
Three weeks after the Paris attacks that left 17 dead, the French government unveils a web-based counter-terror initiative aimed at combating online recruitment tactics employed by IS and other extremist networks. The website features a video debunking the myths peddled by militant recruiters and offers advice and a "toolkit" for families and acquaintances of individuals susceptible to "violent radicalization."

January 30, 2015
Police in the southern French city of Nice question an eight-year-old boy after the third grader allegedly praised the Charlie Hebdo attackers, saying, "I am with the terrorists."

January 31, 2015
Protests against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons turn violent in Afghanistan, as hundreds of demonstrators gather in Kabul, chanting "death to France" and "death to Infidels."

Over the following months, the government stepped up police presence at sensitive sites across the country, and introduced a raft of new security and surveillance measures that critics described as France's version of the Patriot Act that followed the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.

The French government also continued its campaign to fight homegrown jihadists, announced plans to isolate radical convicts in jail, and released anti-extremism videos to dissuade would-be militants.

After narrowly avoiding a terrorist attack on board a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, the country was once again plunged in grief in November when a group of armed men carried out the deadliest attacks on French soil since WWII, killing 130 people in shootings around Paris.