Terror attack on Charlie Hebdo weekly: Suspected Islamists kill 12 in Paris attack on satirical magazine

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Paris | Updated: January 8, 2015 4:04:21 PM

At least 10 people were killed in a terror attack in Paris when gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher opened fire in the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo today, prosecutors said.

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror AttackPolice inspect damage after a collision between police cars at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Twelve people including two police officers were killed in a shooting at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, a police spokesman said in an update on the death toll. French President described as without doubt a terrorist attack. REUTERS

Hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam, killing at least 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in decades.

One of the men was captured on video outside the building waving his arms and shouting “Allah!”. After dozens of shots rang out, two assailants were seen calmly leaving the scene. One police officer was seen being shot as he lay wounded.

 

  A police union official said the assailants – Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said there were three – remained at liberty and there were fears of further attacks. The government declared the highest state of alert, increasing security at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores as the search for the assailants got under way. Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. Jihadists online have repeatedly warned that the magazine would pay for its ridicule.

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror Attack, France Satirical Magazine, French magazine, Muslim leaders jokesFrench cartoonist Wolinski displays a drawing during a photocall at the 61st Cannes Film Festival in this May 16, 2008 file picture. Cartoonist Wolinski was one of the journalists killed when hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo renowned for lampooning radical Islam, killing at least 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades January 7, 2015. Picture taken May 16, 2008. REUTERS

The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and called for “lone wolf” attacks on French soil. President Francois Hollande, who will address the nation on television at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT), rushed to the scene of what appeared to be a carefully-planned attack. Sirens could be heard across the city. “An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris,” he said. “Measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.”

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror Attack, France Satirical Magazine, French magazine, Muslim leaders jokesFrance terror attack: Firefighters carry a victim on a stretcher at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people including two police officers were killed and 10 injured in shooting at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, already the target of a firebombing in 2011 after publishing cartoons deriding Prophet Mohammad on its cover, police spokesman said. Five of the injured were in a critical condition, said the spokesman. Separately, the government said it was raising France?s national security level to the highest notch. REUTERS

  Check out the photo posted on Twitter during the Paris terror attack:

  An amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground, rushes over to him and shoots him dead at point-blank range with a rifle.

The two then walk over to a black saloon car. One casually picks up a shoe left on the ground, and then they drive off.

In another clip on Television station iTELE, the men are heard shouting in French: “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad.”

Here is the initial reaction on Twitter – watch video:

  A witness quoted by 20 Minutes daily newspaper said one of the assailants cried out before entering the car: “Tell the media that it is al Qaeda in Yemen!” The gunmen fled eastwards towards the Paris suburbs, dumping their car in a residential area, police said. They then hijacked another car before running over a pedestrian and disappearing. “There is a possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured,” police union official Rocco Contento said. Check out the photo posted on Twitter during the Paris terror attack:

By late afternoon the police presence in central Paris was significantly heavier. A Reuters reporter saw groups of armed policeman patrolling around the Grands Magasins department stores in the shopping district and there was an armed gendarme presence outside the Arc de Triomphe.

Speaking in French, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has close ties to France, condemned the attack.

 

The White House said France had been one of the stalwart allies of the United States in the fight against Islamic State, while acknowledging it was not yet clear who was responsible for the attack in Paris.

Another 20 people were injured in the attack, including four or five critically. Police union official Contento described the scene inside the offices as “carnage”.

Ten members of Charlie Hebdo staff died in the attack. Sources at the weekly said the dead included co-founder Jean “Cabu” Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier.

“Two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs (rifles),” witness Benoit Bringer told TV station iTELE. “A few minutes later we heard lots of shots.”

In a video shot by journalist Martin Boudot from a rooftop near the magazine’s offices, a man can be heard screaming “Allah”; then followed the sound of three or four shots.

A firebomb attack gutted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover in what it described as a Shariah edition.

France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was already on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.

“I am extremely angry. These are criminals, barbarians. They have sold their soul to hell. This is not freedom. This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this,” said Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis northern suburb.

GUNMEN FLED

Dozens of police and emergency services were at the site as police secured a wide perimeter around the shooting site, where a Reuters reporter saw a car riddled with bullet holes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the the shooting.

“This abominable act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and their security. It is also an attack on freedom of speech and the press, core elements of our free democratic culture.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists described the attack as a brazen assault on free expression.

The scale of the violence is appalling,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand.”

Late last year, a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) injured 13 by ramming a vehicle into a crowd in the eastern city of Dijon. French officials say several attacks were prevented in recent weeks and Valls has said France had “never before faced such a high threat linked to terrorism”.

While there was no early claim for the shooting, supporters of Islamic State and other jihadist groups hailed the attack on Internet sites, suggesting the image of Mohammad was the reason for it.

The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed eight people and injured 150.

French weekly has history of angering Muslims with cartoons

(AP) The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s staple is to be provocative – poking fun at popes, presidents as well as the Prophet Muhammad.

The satirical weekly attacked Wednesday by gunmen, killing at least 12, has a history of drawing outrage across the Muslim world with crude cartoons of Islam’s holiest figure. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in November 2011 after it published a spoof issue that ”invited” Muhammad to be its guest editor and put his caricature on the cover.

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror Attack, France Satirical Magazine, French magazine, Muslim leaders jokesCharlie Hebdo magazine edition.

A year later, the magazine published more Muhammad drawings amid an uproar over an anti-Muslim film. The cartoons depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses. As passions raged, the French government defended free speech even as it rebuked Charlie Hebdo for fanning tensions.

The small-circulation weekly leans toward the left and takes pride in making acerbic commentary on world affairs through cartoons and spoof reports.

”We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it’s a paper and pencil,” the Muhammad cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, told The Associated Press in 2012. ”A pencil is not a weapon. It’s just a means of expression.”

 

 

Chief editor Stephane Charbonnier, who publishes under the pen name ”Charb,” has also defended the Muhammad cartoons.

”Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told The AP in 2012. ”I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Quranic law.”

Islam is not alone in being singled out by Charlie Hebdo’s satire. Past covers include retired Pope Benedict XVI in amorous embrace with a Vatican guard; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy looking like a sick vampire; and an Orthodox Jew kissing a Nazi soldier.

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror Attack, France Satirical Magazine, French magazine, Muslim leaders jokesA journalist works in the Paris newsroom of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in this February 9, 2006 file photo. At least 10 people were killed in a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper firebombed in the past after publishing cartoons joking about Muslim leaders, French TV channel iTELE reported January 7, 2015 . France Info radio also said police had confirmed a toll of 10 dead and five injured. Reuters had no immediate official confirmation of deaths. Picture taken February 9, 2006. REUTERS

The magazine occasionally publishes investigative journalism, taking aim at France’s high and mighty.

Charlie Hebdo has come under pressure ever since its 2011 Muhammad issue. Its website has been hacked, and Charbonnier has needed police protection. Riot police guarded the magazine’s offices after the 2012 issue hit the stands.

French cartoonist Cabu arrives at a Paris court in this February 8, 2007 file photo. Cartoonist Cabu was one of the journalists killed when hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo renowned for lampooning radical Islam, killing at least 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades January 7, 2015. Picture taken February 8, 2007. REUTERSFrench cartoonist Cabu arrives at a Paris court in this February 8, 2007 file photo. Cartoonist Cabu was one of the journalists killed when hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo renowned for lampooning radical Islam, killing at least 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades January 7, 2015. Picture taken February 8, 2007. REUTERS

Obama spokesman: US stands with French in time of suffering

President Barack Obama’s top spokesman says the United States is determined to help the French apprehend those responsible for the attack on a satirical Paris newspaper that left at least 12 people dead.

Press secretary Josh Earnest says U.S. officials have been in close contact with the French after the bloody attack today on the Charlie Hebdo weekly.

Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie Hebdo office, Terror Attack, France Terror AttackAn injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo?s office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. Police official says 11 dead in shooting at the French satirical newspaper. (AP)

Earnest tells CNN the French have been ”stalwart allies” in the U.S. fight against Islamic State extremists. The spokesman also says, ”We know they are not going to be cowed by this terrible act.”

Earnest also says Washington will work hard to protect Americans at home and abroad.

He says, ”We obviously are trying to monitor what we consider to be a very important threat, which is the threat of foreign fighters.”

In this Sept 19, 2012 file photo, Charb, the publishing director of the satyric weekly Charlie Hebdo, displays the front page of the newspaper as he poses for photographers in Paris. (AP)In this Sept 19, 2012 file photo, Charb, the publishing director of the satyric weekly Charlie Hebdo, displays the front page of the newspaper as he poses for photographers in Paris. (AP)

 

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