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12 shot dead in 'terrorist' attack on French newspaper
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12 shot dead in 'terrorist' attack on French newspaper

3 min. 07.01.2015 From our online archive
Heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed a Paris satirical newspaper office Wednesday and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades.
A bullet's impact is seen on a window at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, during an attack on the offices of the newspaper which left eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / ANNE GELBARD
Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, during an attack on the offices of the newspaper which left eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / ANNE GELBARD
Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving at least one dead according to a police source and "six seriously injured" police officers according to City Hall. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DUPEYRAT
Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving at least one dead according to a police source and "six seriously injured" police officers according to City Hall. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DUPEYRAT
A view shows policemen and rescue members at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
A view shows policemen and rescue members at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
General view of police and rescue vehicles at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Philippe Wojazer (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
General view of police and rescue vehicles at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Philippe Wojazer (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Police 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. Eleven people 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/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Police 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. Eleven people 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/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Police investigators are seen at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Police investigators are seen at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)
Firefighters push a stretcher outside the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD
Firefighters push a stretcher outside the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD
Policemen work at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Policemen work at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, January 7, 2015. Eleven people 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/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to the press after arriving at the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD
French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to the press after arriving at the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD

(AFP) Heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed a Paris satirical newspaper office Wednesday and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades.

Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, and the cartoonists known as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were among those killed.

Police launched a massive manhunt for the masked attackers who reportedly hijacked a car and sped off, running over a pedestrian and shooting at officers.

Police said witnesses heard the attackers, who were armed with a Kalashnikov and rocket launcher, shout "we have avenged the prophet" and "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest). 

Two police were confirmed among the dead and four people were critically injured.

The capital was placed under the highest alert status after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that has sparked anger in the past among Muslims for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed.

Television footage showed large numbers of police in the area, bullet-riddled windows and people being carried away on stretchers.

The attack took place at a time of heightened fears in France and other European capitals over fallout from the wars in Iraq and Syria where hundreds of European citizens have gone to fight alongside the radical Islamic State group.

President François Hollande, who immediately rushed to the scene of the shooting, described it as a barbaric terrorist attack.

"An act of exceptional barbarism has just been committed here in Paris against a newspaper, meaning (against) the expression of liberty," Hollande said at the scene.

Attacks condemned

One man who witnessed the shooting said he saw two attackers shooting their way out of Charlie Hebdo at around 11.30am.

"I saw them leaving and shooting. They were wearing masks. These guys were serious," said the man who declined to give his name.

"At first I thought it was special forces chasing drug traffickers or something. We weren't expecting this. You would think we were in a movie."

Hollande called for "national unity", adding that "several terrorist attacks had been foiled in recent weeks."

The White House condemned the attack in the "strongest possible terms," while British Prime Minister David Cameron called it "sickening."

"We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press," Cameron said in a message on Twitter.

Wednesday's shooting is one of the worst attacks in France in decades. 

In 1995, a bomb in a commuter train attributed to Algerian extremists exploded at the Saint Michel metro station in Paris, killing eight and wounding 119.

The satirical newspaper gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed and under the title "Charia Hebdo".

Death threats

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet.

In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled "Innocence of Muslims", which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.

French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks at the time.

Editor Stephane Charbonnier had previously received death threats and lived under police protection.

This week's front page featured controversial author French Michel Houellebecq, whose latest book "Soumission", or "Submission," which imagines a France in the near future that is ruled by an Islamic government, came out Wednesday.

The book has widely been touted as tapping into growing unease among non-Muslim French about immigration and the rise of Islamic influence in society.