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Paris attack: 80,000 armed men comb forest for third day for gunmen

January 09, 2015 11:26 IST

An intense manhunt for the two brothers wanted in the Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre focused Thursday on northern France’s Picardy region, where sources close to the investigation said a police helicopter might have spotted the suspects.

Members of the French GIPN intervention police forces secure a neighbourhood in Corcy, northeast of Paris after authorities were informed that the suspects had entered the wooded area. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Authorities believe that Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, entered a wooded area on foot and that investigators are now using choppers to find them.

Police have flooded the region, with heavily armed officers canvassing the countryside and forests in search of the killers. This latest incident comes after a gas station attendant reportedly said the armed brothers threatened him near Villers-Cotterets in Picardy, stole gas and food, then drove off late Thursday morning.

Around 80,000 armed police officials are combing the area to find the two gunmen, who are responsible for the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Prime Minister Manuel Valls put the Picardy region on the highest alert level, that same level that the entire Ile-de-France region, including Paris, is already under.

Vigils for the victims continued across France on Thursday evening. Several thousand people gathered in the Place de la Republique in Paris for a second night, lighting candles and waving signs that read "Je suis Charlie" (‘I am Charlie’).

People hold a vigil at the Place de la Republique for victims of the attack in Paris, France. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The lights at the Eiffel Tower also went off in tribute to those killed.

Meanwhile, Charlie Hebdo announced that despite the loss of so many of its most talented people -- cartoonists who have been famous in France for a generation -- it would publish as scheduled next Wednesday, and rather than print the usual 60,000 copies, would print 1 million. 

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