Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12
Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.
Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.
A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection.
French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris.
The attack took place during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting.
At least four people were critically wounded in the attack.
President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.
It is believed to be the deadliest attack in France since 1961, when right-wingers who wanted to keep Algeria French bombed a train, killing 28 people.
The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.
Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”).
The number of attackers was initially reported to be two, but French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said security services were hunting three “criminals”. He said that Paris had been placed on the highest alert.
French police have reportedly identified the people involved in the shooting at the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
Metro reported one of the suspects is 34-years-old, another is 32-years-old, and the third is 18-years old.
The two older men are reportedly brothers, French citizens, and residents of Paris. Metro reported the younger man is a student whose nationality is unknown and has no fixed address.
According to Le Point the two men, who were 32 and 34-years old, returned to France from Syria last summer. According to Le Point, in 2008, one of these men was tied to an Iraqi network in Paris that encouraged young men to join militants in Iraq. The magazine reported he was also arrested in 2005 as he attempted to travel to Damascus.
Charlie Hebdo drew the ire of Islamic militant groups for regularly publishing cartoons and articles that lampooned jihadists including caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims find offensive. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011.