Gunmen Kill At Least 12 In ‘Terrorist Attack’ At French Satirical Newspaper
PARIS (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — Paris police say three gunmen attacked the office of a French satirical newspaper in Paris on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and leaving at least as many more injured.
CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports that, according to witnesses, two armed and masked men walked into the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and opened fire in the entrance hallway, killing people as they saw them.
French President Francois Hollande appeared at the scene of the shooting quickly and confirmed that the hunt for the suspects was ongoing.
Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre confirmed 12 people were killed. Among the dead were two men who went by the pen names: Charb — the editor and a cartoonist as well — and the cartoonist Cabu, Thibault-Lecuivre confirmed.
Two police officers were also among the dead, including one assigned as Charb’s bodyguard after prior death threats against him, a police official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Chilling video initially posted to a Facebook account shows two gunmen open fire on police in a small black car, and then shows them executing one officer as he lays on the sidewalk by shooting him at close range. The masked gunmen are then seen in the video getting into the black car and driving off. The Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” can be heard shouted in video of the attack.
They later abandoned the small black car and hijacked another vehicle, in which they are believed to have left central Paris. It was not clear where the third suspect went, as he was not seen making a getaway in the black car after the police officer was shot.
Calling the incident a “terrorist attack,” Hollande said “we must show we are a united country,” and vowed to respond with “firmness.”
Without further explanation, Hollande said “several” attacks had been averted over recent weeks, and added that France was a target for extremists “because we’re a country committed to liberty.”
Cobbe reported that, according to at least one witness, one of the gunman was heard asking for people by name.
The suspects managed to escape the scene and were being pursued by police into Paris suburbs.
A reporter for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper in Paris told Sky News that the first two officers to arrive, who were apparently unarmed, fled after seeing gunmen armed with automatic weapons and possibly a grenade launcher.
The Guardian reports a witness in the office building said one of the gunman asked where Charlie Hebdo was located.
“Then someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away. Afterwards he left, we heard gunfire. We went to the windows, there were two men running with guns, speaking in bad French … They were shouting outside, and shooting again. Afterwards I saw someone leaving the building with his hands covered in blood,” the unnamed witness said, according to The Guardian.
The terror alert in the metro Paris area was raised to its highest level following the attack. All media outlets, department stores, places of worship and transport were to receive reinforced security, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. The statement added that all available civilian and military forces were being deployed, and that “all means” were being used to try and identify, track down, and apprehend the suspects.
The last tweet from the magazine came less than an hour before the reports of a shooting. It was a picture depicting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with a message wishing him, “Best wishes.”
REPORT: French Police Have Identified The Three People Involved In Magazine Shooting
French police have reportedly identified the people involved in the shooting at the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.
According to Metro, by Wednesday evening local time French law enforcement was aware of the names and birthdates of the alleged perpetrators. 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.
Le Point reported French police were focusing on two suspects that the magazine described as “French-Algerian.” 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. In addition to the two men, Le Point also said police were looking for a suspect who was born in 1996 has no fixed address.
The shooting left 12 people dead including several members of the magazine’s staff. Two gunmen and their driver remain at large.
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.