Paris Terror Attack: Inside the Manhunt for Charlie Hebdo Attackers

PHOTO: French police special forces are pictured near Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, on Jan. 8, 2015, where the two armed suspects from the attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo were allegedly spotted. PlayFrancois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Manhunt Gathers Near Forest for Paris Terror Suspects

Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers have fanned out throughout France today in the nationwide effort to track down the two suspects believed to be responsible for the attack that left 12 dead on Wednesday.

The aftermath of the attack on the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo is being felt in small villages across the countryside as tactical teams have launched massive search operations.

There are already 35,000 members of the French gendarmerie force and paramilitary police that have been ordered into action, 10,000 of whom are weaving throughout the capital city, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Now, an additional 1,000 troops have been ordered into service as back up, the French interior minister said.

Law enforcement officers aren't the only government employees on alert, since the raised terror warning means that an additional 50,000 civil servants have been tasked with being on watch for suspicious activity. The officers in Paris are being asked to guard public transportation hubs and preserve public spaces as thousands of demonstrators have been coming out in droves to support the slain staff.

MANHUNT - Terror in Paris - ABC NewsABC News
MANHUNT - Terror in Paris - ABC News

All told, there are about 88,000 government employees involved in the search for the two suspects -- brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi -- who allegedly killed nine staff members and contributors to Charlie Hebdo, a police officer, a body guard and a doorman in Wednesday's attack, Cazeneuve said today.

"The number of people mobilized could be subsequently increased if necessary," Cazeneuve said during a news conference this afternoon.

Cazeneuve also released new details about the trail of the attackers, starting in the first minutes after the fatal shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Wednesday Around Noon

The attack is believed to have only lasted about five minutes, with the two suspects reportedly leaving the building around 11:35 a.m. From there, they fled in a stolen Citroen C3 just after exchanging fire with a police officer, Cazeneuve said. They abandoned the car on Rue de Meaux, further north in the city, before hijacking another car at Porte de Pantin.

One clue that they left behind, however, was one of the suspect's ID cards that police found in the abandoned Citroen. From there, police were able to establish the identity of Said Kouachi, one of the suspects, and then they made the connection to his brother Cherif Kouachi. The French citizens were both known to law enforcement.

PHOTO: Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015.Anne Gelbard/AFP/Getty Images
Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015.

Wednesday Evening

With the capital city on high alert, another act of violence sent shockwaves through law enforcement, though it ended up being unrelated, according to authorities. A female police officer was fatally shot in southeast Paris on Wednesday night, but Cazeneuve confirmed during today's news conference that it was unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The third suspect, 18-year-old Hamid Mourad, turned himself in during the late evening or early morning hours, but no other information about the manner in which he was presented to police or where that interaction took place has been released.

Mourad has neither been charged nor cleared, and he remains in police custody where he is being questioned, according to the Paris Public Prosecutor's office.

Over the course of the evening, police also searched an undisclosed number of homes connected to the Kouachi brothers, and they reportedly made several arrests. Cazeneuve would not give much information about the arrests, saying only that they were relatives of the brothers.

PHOTO: French riot officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, France, Jan. 8, 2015.Thibault Camus/AP Photo
French riot officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, France, Jan. 8, 2015.

Thursday Early Morning

There was one reported spotting at a gas station in Villers-Cotterets, which was confirmed publicly later today. Police flooded the scene began zeroing in on the surrounding countryside towns.

PHOTO: Gendarmes investigate where the two armed suspects from the attack on newspaper Charlie Hebdo were possibly spotted at an Avia gas station in Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, Jan. 8, 2015. Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images
Gendarmes investigate where the two armed suspects from the attack on newspaper Charlie Hebdo were possibly spotted at an Avia gas station in Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, Jan. 8, 2015.

Thursday, Noon

A national moment of silence was held to honor the victims, led by President Francois Hollande. The bells of Notre Dame Cathedral rang after for 10 minutes.

Thursday Afternoon

The area that police have started thoroughly investigating, which largely surrounds the Foret-de-Retz, is approximately 50 miles northeast of Paris.

Police descended on the town of Crépy-en-Valois, not far from the gas station where the spotting was reported, and they sealed off the village.

Heavily armed police were then spotted on the other side of the forest in the villages of Longpont and Corcy, where they were seen searching door to door.

PHOTO: French National Police near Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, where the two armed suspects in the attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo were allegedly spotted, Jan. 8, 2015. Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images
French National Police near Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, where the two armed suspects in the attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo were allegedly spotted, Jan. 8, 2015.

Thursday Evening, 8 p.m. local time

The lights of the Eiffel Tower were dimmed to honor the 12 victims of the attack. Thousands of demonstrators returned to the Parisian streets for a second night in a row to show their support for the victims and their anger at the attack on the country's free press.

PHOTO: As a tribute for the victims of yesterdays terrorist attack, the lights of the Eiffel Tower were turned off for five minutes at 8pm local time, Jan. 8, 2015 in Paris, France. Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images
As a tribute for the victims of yesterday's terrorist attack, the lights of the Eiffel Tower were turned off for five minutes at 8pm local time, Jan. 8, 2015 in Paris, France.