The twin episodes -- one outside the French capital involving the suspects who shot and killed 12 people Wednesday at the offices of the satirical magazine, the other at a kosher grocery store -- ended simultaneously with staccato bursts of gunfire and blasts of what appeared to be stun grenades by small armies of law enforcement officers.
"France is living through a trial, when we see the worst massacre of this kind in the last 50 years," President Francois Hollande said in and address to the nation Friday.
One of the most terrifying weeks in modern French history culminated with the shooting deaths of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo slaughter -- brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi -- and scenes of still-stunned hostages being led to freedom by heavily-armed security forces from the kosher supermarket, after the man who police say took hostages there was killed.
"It's like a war," a man who identified himself only as Teddy said as the episodes unfolded. "I don't know how I will explain this to my 5-year-old son."
This father lives across the street from a school in the village of Dammartin-en-Goele, where security forces launched an assault on a graphics/printing business where the Kouachi brothers had holed themselves up.
Country riveted by hostage drama
For hours Friday, there was no teaching in the classrooms in the small town northeast of Paris. Dozens of schools were on lockdown. Teachers and their pupils hid in fear. Mothers approached officers seeking assurances that their children were safe.
Some students were later allowed to leave. Police officers accompanied them, holding their hands as they guided the children away. The littlest ones were lifted onto an awaiting bus that would deliver them to the safety of nearby sports facilities.
The two suspects told police by phone that they wanted to die as martyrs, Yves Albarello, a member of Parliament, said on French channel iTele.
Shortly before 5 p.m., helicopters swooped down on the building where the Kouachi brothers holed themselves up.
Explosions and gunfire echoed through the industrial area. Smoke rose from the building.
At the grocery store in Paris, four people were killed when police stormed the business near Porte de Vincennes, Hollande said.
Earlier, a salesman, who identified himself only as Didier, told France Info radio that he had shaken hands with one of the gunmen about 8:30 a.m. Friday as they arrived at the printing business. Didier at first thought the man, who was dressed in black and heavily armed, was a police officer, he told the public radio station.
As he left, the armed man told Didier, "Go, we don't kill civilians."
"It wasn't normal," Didier said of his encounter. "I did not know what was going on."
Relief, but hunt continues for another suspect
Fear of the unknown has gripped France.
The dread Friday reached an eastern Paris kosher grocery store where a man suspected of a killing a police officer a day earlier took a number of hostages, including children. The hostage-taking suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, was a close associate of Cherif Kouachi, a Western intelligence source told CNN.
Coulibaly demanded freedom for the Kouachi brothers.
About the time security forces killed the Kouachi brothers, other officers, guns blazing, moved in on the kosher market.
Police shouted "get down!" and "we've got him," according to video from CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Some hostages were killed, according to French radio reports. A man who presumably was a hostage got out with an infant, as did others. Among those who may have escaped the building was a female accomplice of the grocery store hostage-taker and suspect in Thursday's fatal police shooting.
On Friday night, the words "Paris est Charlie," French for "Paris is Charlie" were triumphantly projected on the iconic Arc de Triomphe.
A new manhunt was launched, meanwhile, for the only surviving suspect from the two hostage situations, police union spokesman Pascal Disant said.
That suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, was allegedly an accomplice of Coulibaly in the standoff at the kosher market.
In a televised address to the nation later, Hollande warned: "France is not done with threats that are targeting (the country)."