The two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack spoke to police by phone and said they wanted to die as martyrs, according to a French member of parliament for the district where a police operation is taking place.
Yves Albarello, who is in the Dammartin-en-Goele area where officers are hunting for the suspects, was speaking on French channel I TELE.
Dammartin-en-Goele residents have been told to stay inside and the schools are on lockdown, the mayor’s press office told CNN on Friday.
The principal of a local primary school told CNN that police operations in the town began just before 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET). Parents who came to get their children have been told to stay inside. Shops in the town have been told to close, she said.
The suspected gunmen may be cornered.
French search teams have surrounded a section of the town Dammartin-en-Goele northeast of Paris on Friday. There are media reports of a hostage taking in the same town, which is a few miles from Charles de Gaulle airport.
The Kouachi brothers, the suspects in Wednesday’s killing of 12 people, are “almost certainly” the hostage takers, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henri Brandet said.
Convoys of police vans with blue lights flashing filled residential streets, and a nearby hospital sent a medical team to the town. An ambulance could be seen on the scene. Police armed with assault rifles held watch.
A local resident told CNN that the Dammartin-en-Goele was on lockdown, and that people have been told to shelter in place.
The two suspects in the killing of 12 at the offices of satire cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo may have been spotted not far from Dammartin-en-Goele twice before.
On Thursday, they followed a lead from a gas station attendant near Villers-Cotterets, whom Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, reportedly threatened, as they stole gas and food and then drove off.
Police believe the brothers may have later fled on foot into nearby woodlands.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls put that northernmost region of France, Picardy, on the same highest terror alert that Paris has been on since the attack.
And police spying down with night vision optics from helicopters believe they caught a glimpse of them Thursday near Crepy-en-Valois, France — not far from the reported robbery.
That town and the gas station border on a patch of woods, and on another side of the forest, 30 to 40 police vehicles swarmed out from the town of Longpont.
Squads of officers armed with rifles — some in helmets and with shields — canvassed field and forest.