Paris Reels After Deadly Attack on Satirical Magazine Charlie Hebdo

Paris shooting
Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of Charlie Hebdo's offices. A source told French news channel France 2 that the magazine was holding their weekly editorial meeting when the attack took place. Philippe Dupeyrat/AFP/Getty Images

Ten journalists and two policemen were killed in an shooting attack Wednesday at the Parisian headquarters of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Police confirmed that four celebrated cartoonists are among the dead, including Stephane Charbonnier, the editorial director of the magazine, who was known as Charb.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, has told journalists that three attackers were involved and that everything was being done to "neutralise as quickly as possible the three criminals that committed this barbaric act”. The gunmen fled the scene after a shootout with police and a manhunt is now underway with The Guardian reporting that over 3,000 officers are now on the streets of Paris.

A police union spokesman, Rocco Contento, told French newspaper Libération that three men entered the magazine’s offices at around 11.30am local time armed with Kalashnikovs and shotguns. “They opened fire on everyone, it was butchery, a real slaughter,” he said.

Cartoonist Corrine Rey, who is known as Coco, told French publication L’Humanite that the gunmen had forced her to open the door when she encountered them on the doorstep after she’d picked up her daughter from nursery.

“As I got to the front door of the building, two masked, armed gunmen brutally threatened us. They wanted to come in, go up. I typed out the code. They shot on Wolinski, Cabu… it lasted five minutes. I took shelter under a desk. They spoke perfect French. They said they were from al-Qaeda.” Another witness told the Telegraph that the shooters had told a passerby to “tell the media that this is al Qaeda in Yemen”.

The police spokesman later told reporters that the attackers had fled the scene in a getaway car, driving to north-east Paris where they abandoned the vehicle and hijacked a second car. Forensic examinations are now being carried out on the abandoned car.  

Videos show a gun battle with police in the streets outside Charlie Hebdo’s offices. William Molinié, a journalist for 20minutes tweeting from the scene, posted a picture showing a police car with bullet holes in its windscreen:

AFP reported that after the attack, the gunmen shouted: “We have avenged the prophet." A 33-year-old estate agent who witnessed the attack, Cédric Le Béchec, told Britain's Telegraph that prior to the attack the shooters had stopped a man in the street and said: "Tell the media that this is Al Qaeda in Yemen."

A source told French news channel France 2 that the magazine was holding their weekly editorial meeting when the attack took place.

However, Gerard Biard, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, was in London at the time of the attack. In an interview with France Inter radio, translated by the Press Association, he said: “I am shocked that people can have attacked a newspaper in France, a secular republic. I don’t understand it. “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

He also said that the magazine had not received warning or violent threats: “Not to my knowledge, and I don’t think anyone had received them as individuals, because they would have talked about it. There was no particular tension at the moment.”

French President Francois Hollande made a statement at the scene in which he called the shooting a terrorist attack and an act “of exceptional barbarism”, and said that police are still hunting the perpetrators. He also and also said that four of those wounded are “between life and death”.

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In Pictures: Charlie Hebdo Attack

12 people were killed in a shooting January 7 at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
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British prime minister David Cameron tweeted his condemnation of the attack, also labelling them as an act of terror, saying: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

The White House has issued a statement condemning the attacks in “strongest possible terms”. “Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack. Senior officials at the White House have been in close touch with their counterparts in France this morning," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“The United States stand ready to work closely with the French” to help them investigate the attack, he added.

The city has now been placed on the highest terrorism alert with The Guardian reporting that newspaper offices, stations and museums have been placed under police protection.

Various media has emerged of the gunmen shooting at police and fleeing the scene. Elise Bathet, a journalist at Le Monde tweeted this picture which allegedly show the attackers facing a police car:

A video taken by Martin Boudout of the Premières Lignes agency allegedly shows perpetrators shooting and shouting  "Allahu Akbar", which means “God is [the] greatest”:

A video was posted on Facebook which appeared to show the attackers executing a wounded policeman, although the footage has since been removed.

Charlie Hebdo has attracted threats in the past for its cartoons and caricatures. Its offices were firebombed in November 2011 after it ran a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed on its cover.

This week’s edition, which came out this morning, carried a cartoon of Michel Houellebecq, author of a controversial novel, Submission, about a Muslim leader running France according to conservative Islamic law, on its cover.

The last tweet sent from the Charlie Hebdo account before the shooting depicted ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:

The cartoon caption reads: “Baghdadi also vows: ‘And especially health!’”  with the tweet reading “Best wishes, by the way”