At least 12 people were killed after two gunmen stormed the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Police said that an additional 20 people were injured.
Among the dead is Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier.
The AP says a witness to the shooting told the iTele network that “he saw multiple masked men armed with automatic weapons at the newspaper.”
The men were clad all in black and spoke “flawless French”, according to another witness. They were heard shouting “we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen”, “the Prophet has been avenged” and “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”) as they carried out the shootings.
The satirical weekly first published in Paris in 1969 has faced threats in the past.
In 2006, it republished Muhammad cartoons from the Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten, triggering violent protests among the French Islamic community. According to Islam doctrine, it is an offence to portray Allah or Muhammad on paper.
In 2011, the magazine was firebombed after featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover saying “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
A year later, in September 2012, the French magazine incited more anger in the Muslim community by portraying the Prophet naked in cartoons. The reactions were so violent that the French government had to temporarily close some of its embassies and consular offices, Reuters reported.
Yesterday’s deadly attack came after the satirical magazine featured a new book by Michel Houellebecq that depicts the French government in 2022 as being run by Muslims.
As well as the editor, they also picked out the deputy editor and three cartoonists who had regularly satirised Islam as their victims.
In 2012, Charbonnier, also known as “Charb,” told Le Monde he was “not afraid of retaliation. I have no kids, no wife, no car, no mortgage. It may come off as a bit arrogant but I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”
The last cartoon run by Charbonnier seemed to refer to the near-term possibility of a terrorist attack on French soil. “Still no terrorist attacks in France,” the top of the cartoon reads.
The subject of the cartoon, a befuddled man with loopy eyes and what appears to be an AK-47 on his back, butts in: “Wait! We have until the end of January to present our wishes.”
AK-47s were used on the attack targeting the offices in eastern Paris.
The gunmen are still on the loose. More people were injured and killed as they escaped.
A police officer was shot while lying in the street begging for mercy. There’s a disturbing video on social media which has a close-up of the moment:
The Facebook video is disturbing. The gunmen approach the policeman:
One of the men then points a gun and shoots:
The shooters then ran away and got into a car:
French TV also has video from the attack:
France has raised its alert status to the highest level, and Hollande has called an emergency meeting. Newspaper offices, shopping centres, and museums in Paris are now under police protection following the attack.
According to the AP, Hollande called the deadly shooting a “terrorist attack” and that other terrorism-related attacks have been prevented in recent weeks.
“France is in a state of shock after this terrorist attack,” Hollande said. “An act of exceptional barbarity has been perpetrated against a newspaper, against liberty of expression, against journalists”
This photo from above the scene with one person being carried out on a stretcher was posted by twitter user @yvecresson:
A Le Monde journalist tweeted this photo that she says shows the two shooters:
A closer image shows the gunmen, dressed in black, holding what appear to be automatic rifles.
The Guardian tweeted this photo of the entrance:
AFP journalist Eric Randolph noted that the cover of Charlie Hebdo this week featured Michel Hollellebecq whose new book “imagines Muslims take over French government in 2022.”
Here are some more pictures from the scene:
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