Closing In: Hunt for Paris Killers Turns to Northern France

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[Breaking news alert, posted at 4:20 p.m. ET Thursday]

A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN Cherif and Said Kouachi, suspects in the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris, were in the U.S. database of known or suspected international terrorists, known as TIDE, and also had been on the no-fly list for years.

[Previous story, posted at 3:42 p.m. ET Thursday]

The intense manhunt for the two brothers wanted for the Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre focused Thursday on northern France’s Picardy region, where helicopters swarmed overhead and heavily armed officers canvassed the countryside and forests in search of the killers.

Authorities have not said definitively they know where Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, are, or where they might be going. Still, their actions — taken after a gas station attendant reportedly told police the armed brothers threatened him near Villers-Cotterets in Picardy, stole gas and food, then drove off late Thursday morning — speak for themselves.

About 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the gas station, police blocked a rural country road leading to the French village of Longpont. Authorities have not commented in any detail, but pictures showed heavily armed police officers with shields and helmets in the blocked-off area.

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.

But it’s hardly the only dangerous place in France. Earlier Thursday, a gunman — dressed in black and wearing what appeared to be a bulletproof vest, just like those who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices — shot and killed a female police officer in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. One person was arrested in that incident, Paris Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman said, though it’s not known if the shooter is still at large.

Authorities have called that a terror attack, even if they haven’t outright connected it to Wednesday’s slaying of 12 at the satirical magazine’s Paris headquarters.

As long as the Kouachi brothers are at large, France’s nightmare is not over.

But the European nation’s sense of pride, unity and defiance is just as undeniable.

As Charlie Hebdo writer Patrick Pelloux told CNN affiliate BFMTV, “We can’t let them win.”

Latest updates at 4:20 p.m. ET

One of the brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo attack traveled to Yemen in 2005, France’s justice minister told CNN on Thursday. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira did not specify which brother had traveled to Yemen.

An ISIS radio broadcast Thursday praised the attackers, calling them “brave jihadists.” There was no mention of a claim of responsibility for the attack.

• Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower went dark at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) in remembrance of the victims of Wednesday’s attack.