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Terror attack in France
RECAP: Brothers hunted for Charlie Hebdo murders
Anti-terror police carry out an operation in city of Reims on Wednesday night. Photo: Screengrab BFM TV

RECAP: Brothers hunted for Charlie Hebdo murders

The Local · 8 Jan 2015, 16:29

Published: 08 Jan 2015 01:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Jan 2015 16:29 GMT+01:00

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Latest:

  • Two men being hunted following murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris
  • Men named as brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi
  • Third man hands himself to police after seeing his name circulating
  • Security heightened in Paris
  • Leaders from around the world strongly condemn the terror attack
  • Thousands rally across France and around the world in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo
  • US reports of arrests not confirmed in France.

Thursday 07:45 - Latest developments

Good morning. Here are the main overnight developments in the search for the people who murdered 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris:

The two men alleged by police to be responsible for the attacks have been named by police as Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, aged 34 and 32 and born in Paris. Police say they may be “armed and dangerous”.

A third man, Mourad Hamid, 18, has handed himself into police after seeing his name circulating in social media, according to AFP who cite someone close to the case. It is not clear whether he remains a suspect.

Saïd Kouachi’s identity card was reportedly found in the Citroën C3 found abandoned in north-eastern Paris. A magazine from a Kalashnikov and two sports bags were reportedly also found in the car.

01:15 - Top story: France on alert as Muslims feel backlash

Here's our latest round-up of the events in Paris today - events that led to near-universal revulsion in Paris and around the world, but also to important demonstrations in favour of freedom of speech.

The hunt for the perpetrators continues - we'll bring you the latest updates in the morning. But for now, we're going to call it a day. 

00:52 - No French confirmation on US reports 

At the moment no French media outlets that we have seen are confirming the reports from NBC, citing US intelligence sources, that one of the main suspects has been killed and two others arrested. Certainly, no French officials have made a public statement to that effect. A police spokesman told us just before 11pm that arrests had been made in Reims, but said that the people arrested might not be the main suspects.

The NBC story might turn out to be true, but right now we don't know.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing, armed special forces operatives are carrying out a very visible operation in Reims in full view of the world's media, but TV channel TF1's correspondent says no shots have been heard.

00:45 - US report: one suspect killed, two arrested

American channel NBC, citing “two senior US counterterrorism officials” says one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack has been killed, and two others arrested.

00:11 - Anti- terror operation in Reims

Pictures from France's BFM TV show armed police carrying out an operation in a neighbourhood of Reims tonight. The officers, armed with automatic weapons, are seen congregating around entrances to buildings. All seems calm for the moment. There doesn't seem to be any cordon set up to keep journalists and members of the public away. 

Analysts are telling BFM TV "it's a very strange scene", while others suggest the real operation may be taking place elsewhere in the city.

 

 

00:05 - Police and military reinforcements for Paris on Thursday

The prefecture of Paris has announced there will be an extra 650 soldiers and 2,000 police on duty in Paris on Thursday, in response to the heightened terror alert after the shooting on Wednesday.

Security will be reinforced at the following places: Shopping centres and tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, places of religious worship, transport hubs like train stations and airports and at offices of various media outlets.

Midnight in Paris: The latest on the anti- terror raid or even raids taking place in Reims tonight

According to reports police have raided two apartments in the Red Cross district of the city. No shots have been fired and no arrests made.

23:52 - Obama's call to Hollande

US president Barack Obama called François Hollande earlier to offer the resources to help track down the perpetrators.

 

23:46 - More from AFP on the anti-terror raid in Reims.

The source in the elite commando RAID unit told AFP: "Either the suspects will be able to escape, or "there will be a showdown", before urging journalists at the scene to remain "vigilant".  It's worth remembering that self proclaimed Islamist Mohamed Merah, decided he wouldn't do down without a fight, after he went on a shooting spree in March 2012, killing three soldiers and four members of the Jewish community in Toulouse.

There was an almighty shoot out when officers from the RAID unit stormed his apartment after tracking him down. Merah was killed in the raid.

23:37 - Reims under siege?

Here's a map of France highlighting the city of Reims, where the anti-terror raid is said to be underway tonight.

 

23:34 - BREAKING: Anti-terror raid underway in Reims

According to various reports coming through, French anti-terror police are currently carrying out an operation in Reims.  A member of the elite commando RAID unit, that is called in to carry out these kind of operations, told AFP that an operation began in Reims around 11pm.

23:13 - Who were the victims of the Paris terror attack?

While we wait to hear how the hunt for the terrorists is unfolding. It's worth remembering once again the victims of their shocking "barbaric" attack today. 

We've put together a piece on the 12 people, 11 men and one woman, who were killed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and in the streets outside.

The 12 victims of the Paris terror attack

22:57 - Raids taking place across country

Those arrests made in Reims could just be part of a nationwide operation by police tonight as there have also been raids on apartments in Pantin, northern Paris, Strasbourg and Gennevilliers, where it is believed the three attackers are from.

Still very conflicting reports around. For example Le Point have just sent out an alert saying the men have been tracked down and police commando unit are ready to intervene.

It's worth remembering the official line from the Minister of Interior is that "everything is being done to make sure these terrorists are neutralised" but they have not been arrested as of yet.

22:48 - BREAKING: Police confirm arrests made in eastern city of Reims

The Local has just spoken with Police officer Rocco Contento, who has been dealing with the media if the aftermath of the shooting. He confirmed that arrests have been made in the eastern city of Reims this evening, but could not confirm the men held are the terrorists behind this morning shootings in Paris.

"There's a strong probability it is them, but we will have to wait for confirmation. We will know very soon," he said.

So nothing official yet, but it appears the manhunt could be drawing to a close if hasn't already.

22:35 - "This is not about multiculturalism it's just about extremists"

As as expressing solidarity with the victims of the terror attack, there has been much talk about what or who is to blame today and in particular how this affects French society and in particular its population of six million Muslims. 

The subject was discussed by those who turned up at Place de la Republique tonight.

"This problem does not come from multiculturalism, it comes from extremists and we cannot mix the two things up," a woman named Aline told The Local's reporter Priscillia Charles.

A student Clarisse added: "This attack doesn't come from the fact that the French society is islamophobic, it doesn't come from French society at all, it comes from the islamist extremists, that's all."

22:22 - Gunmen 'from Gennevilliers'

Lots of confusing and conflicting reports doing the rounds right now about whether or not police have tracked down and indeed arrested the gunmen. As yet nothing has been confirmed offcially. The same goes for the identities of the three men. The interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has insisted however that no one has been arrested.

However, having said that, things are changing quickly at the moment.

Reports say three men are from the Gennevilliers area to the north of Paris. (SEE map below)

22:07 - Police 'track down gunmen'

France's Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve has denied that the gunmen have been arrested, but there are various unconfirmed reports that police officers have tracked down down. Liberation newspaper says its police sources have confirmed the gunmen have been "localisé" (located) and identified.

As we mentioned below numerous reports name the three men on the run as two brothers Saïd K. and Chérif K, aged 32 and 34, and a third man Hamyd M, aged 18. Reports also say at least one of the men was known to French police for his links to a jihadist network that was organisaing for young men to fight in Iraq.

21:57 - More from Place de la Republique and TOulouse:

 

 

 

21:38 Have the gunmen been identified?

The Metro newspaper in France are reporting that the three gunmen are said to be two brothers Saïd K. and Chérif K, aged 32 and 34, and a third man Hamyd M, aged 18. The brothers are reported to be French; the nationality of the third man is unknown. Reuters, which has not revealed the names of the suspects, says the brothers are from Paris and the other man from Reims.

21:21 - Thursday to be day of mourning in France:

Here's a bit more on what Hollande said live on TV earlier, including his announcement that Thursday would be a national day of mourning:

French President Francois Hollande announced Thursday would be a day of mourning in the wake of the attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left at least 12 dead.

It marks only the fifth time in the last 50 years that a day of mourning has been declared in France.

"Unity is our best weapon," Hollande said in a televised address, adding that flags would fly at half-mast across the country for three days.

"Nothing can divide us, nothing should separate us. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity."

21:15  - More on the demos taking place across France tonight

At least 35,000 held vigils in Paris, and some 20,000 people turned out in the French cities of Lyon and Toulouse, police said. Thousands more took to the streets in cities including Bordeaux and Marseille.

Many demonstrators wore black stickers with the words "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie), a slogan aimed at showing solidarity with the victims of the deadliest attack in France in decades and in support of the paper's decision to print controversial prophet Mohammed cartoons.

Others waved banners with slogans such as "Press freedom has no price" and "Charb mort libre" (Charb died free), a reference to the newspaper's slain editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier.

This was the scene in Marseille where mourners lit candles for the victims:

21:14 - Charlie Hebdo to be made honorary citizen of Paris:

Charlie Hebdo will be made an honorary citizen of Paris at a council meeting on Friday, the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo has said.
 
Speaking to BFM TV, the Socialist politician said it had been decided to call a council meeting “not only to pay tribute but to carry on, to take a stand. For us taking a stand means, for example, making  ‘Charlie Hebdo’ an honorary citizen of the City of Paris,” she said.

20:53 - VIDEO of attackers fleeing the scene


Attentat à Charlie Hebdo : les images de la... par leparisien

20:49 - Over 100,000 turn out across France

More than 100,000 people gathered in cities around France as night fell to pay tribute to the 12 people gunned down in an attack against the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly on Wednesday.

In Paris 35,000 gathered at Republique square, not far from where the attack took place, police said. Officials in cities such as Marseille, Toulouse and Lyon also reported thousands gathering in public spaces on the
country's darkest day in decades.

20:38 - Breaking: Manhunt heads to city of Reims, reports say

The three suspects have been identified by police and are believed to have headed to Reims, according to reports in local newspaper ‘l’Union. 
 
Elite police units have been sent to the city in the Champagne region, 130km north-west of Paris. According to sources also cited by national television station TF1, one of the suspects is from Reims.
 
The reports are so far unconfirmed, but it was confirmed earlier that the attackers headed into north-eastern Paris after the shooting, leaving their car in the 19th Arrondissement and heading to the Porte de Pantin area.
 
20:21 -  More reaction from those people gathered in Place de la Republique tonight who have spoken to our reporter Priscillia Charles.

Freelance journalist named Michel said: Charlie hebdo has been a symbol for the past 40 years. It feels like we're loosing a companion a fellow fighter. We can't be unmoved when events like this one happen."

Another named Nadia said: I am outraged and want to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. I think we should all subscribe to Charlie Hebdo to show our support."

A student named Charlotte said: "I was disgusted and shocked. We have to show that we aren't afraid. We have to show that freedom of speech is one of our fundamental rights."

2015 - President François Hollande has just spoken to the nation live on TV.

Here's what he had to say:

"Our greatest strength is our unity. We will overcome this and show we have the capacity to fight this kind of tragedy. 

"I want to express my regret to the families and friends of the victims. Those killed today are our heros. This was an attack on all of France. It was an attack on democracy, on liberty and on tolerance."

Hollande also announced  that Thursday would be an official day of mourning.

20:13 - VIDEO - One of the many rallies taking place across France tonight is in Lille. Here's images of the scene below:

19:43  - "These people are not religious, they are monsters"

A student named Marie, who is at the protest at Place de la Republique tonight tells The Local why she decided she had to attend the spontaneous rally in support of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

"We have to show people we are not afraid. We have to defend freedom of speech. We should be able to say what we want. 

"We must not attack Muslims because of this. The people behind this attack are not religious. They are monsters."

19:27 - BREAKING - Police raid two apartments

Reports from Le Parisien newspaper claim police hunting the gunmen, have carried out raids on two apartments earlier this evening. The first raid was carried out an a falt in Pantin (Seine Saint-Denis) and then in Gennevilliers, in the same area to the north east of Paris. No arrests have been made, but Le Parisien suggests the apartments may have been used by the terrorists.

19:21 - Moving statement from former chief of Charlie Hebdo.

Philippe Val, former Director of Charlie Hebdo has been speaking to France Inter Radio:

"I lost all my friends today. Wolinski, Charb ... They are all dead. We must stand, we must stick together. These were not bad people, they just wanted us to live happily. That's it. "

"It's not our role as citizens to dispense justice. Our means of dispensing justice is to not be silent, to continue. It's not easy, but you have to continue."

 

19:06 - Rallies also taking place in London and Berlin.

Here's a picture from a spontaneous rally taking place in Trafalgar Square tonight, in homage to the victims in Paris.

 

Here's a pic from our colleagues in Berlin where people have gathered outside the French embassy and below there's a similar scene in Stockholm.

 

 

19:03 - Videos of the shooting. 

Video footage taken by a terrified witness from a windows overlooking the scene showed two masked gunmen shooting one of their victims, who appears to be in a police uniform, in cold blood at close range as he lay already injured on a pavement.

18:56 - More information on the two police officers killed in the shooting:

One officer was from a special protection service (SPHP) and was in charge of protecting Charlie Hebdo’s editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in the attack.

The other officer was a Paris police officer linked to the 11th arrondissement, who was on patrol in the area. He has been named as Ahmed Merabet.

18:47 - Rallies in support of CHarlie Hebdo take place across France 

Thousands have taken to the streets in cities across France to express their solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and  the victims of the terrorist shooting. Spontaneous rallies are being held in Marseille, Lyon, Toulous, Rennes and also in Paris, where an estimated 20,000 are believed to have turned up at the Place de La Republique.

Slogans are being chanted such as "We are all Charlie Hebdo" and "We are all journalists".

18:39 - The latest from the Paris prosecutor:

Twelve people were killed and 11 injured, four seriously, in Wednesday's attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in
Paris, the chief prosecutor said.

The attackers shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and said they wanted to "avenge the prophet" as they stormed into the office of the newspaper, prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed at a press briefing.

18:12 - "Gunmen were military trained"

This is the latest from AFP on the fact the gunmen were likely to have received military-style training:

The calm, cold determination and deadly efficiency of the gunmen who attacked a French satirical magazine on Wednesday, leaving 12 people dead, has led police to believe they received
military-style training.

Images of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, taken on cellphones, show a carefully planned and professional operation, said a former bodyguard and policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It is obvious from the way they hold their guns and proceed calmly, coldly. They certainly received some kind of military training," said another police officer.

"They weren't acting on the spur of the moment."

In particular, he pointed to the way they held their Kalashnikov rifles close to their bodies, firing off shot by shot instead of a burst of gunfire, saying this showed they knew how to use the weapon.

The former bodyguard said: "The most striking thing is their cold-bloodedness. They were trained in Syria, in Iraq or elsewhere. Maybe even in France but one thing is sure: they were trained."

18:06 - We've just spoken to a police officer who has been dealing with the media today.

Rocco Contento, a union leader with the police in Paris, told The Local, the two gunmen are still on the run, and are believed to be in the Seine Saint-Denis area to the north east of the French capital. 

Contento also said authorities were pursuing the theory that Islamist extremists were behind the attack.

18:00 - Here's a round up of the reactions to the shooting from around the world, including one from British-Indian author Salman Rushdie.

He said: "I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity," he said.

"'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion'. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

VIDEO: 17:12 - US Secretary of state John Kerry has also been reacting to the shooting:

17:09 - Rallies organised around France

Numerous spontaneous rallies are being organised around France in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and in the name of freedom of speech. The rallies, one of which will take place at Place de le Republique in Paris, have been organised through social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

17:03 - Flags to fly half mast

Flags are fly half mast at the Elysée Palace, the National Assembly and the Senat after the shooting today.

 

16:58 - More reaction from French politicians

Meyer Habib, an MP with the UDI told reporters at the scene, including The Local, that France was facing a "third world war against jihadists".

"We are in a third world war against jihadism. This is just the beginning. The French Republic has to wake up.

"They are cutting the throat of France. Fighting jihadism must now become a national cause."

16:50 - Media and politicians to change their attitude to freedom of speech

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has received death threats for drawings depicting Muhammad as a dog, has called for the media and politicians to change their attitude to freedom of speech following the Charlie Hebdo attack.
 
Writing on Swedish broadcaster SVT’s website, he argues that widespread publication of the Muhammad cartoons at an early stage would have made it hard for the extremists to act.
 
“We have a situation today in which satirical pictures with motifs related to Islam are already censored in most media
“This is now likely to get even worse. The reason we’ve landed in this particularly unhealthy situation is that the media have consciously chosen (partly out of tact, partly our of fear) to exercise self-censorship and not to spread the risks.”

16:42  - Was the timing crucial?

Charlie Hebdo's last tweet on Wednesday morning before the attack included a cartoon of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Happy New Year wishes.

And 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, also hit book shelves on 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.

Did the terrorists time their attack to coincide with the book's release and the magazine's front page? It's highly likely.

16:25: 'I don't feel I'm killing someone with a pen"

Another quote from Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, who was killed in the terror attack at his magazine's offices on Wednesday:

"I don't feel as though I'm killing someone with a pen".

16:21 - US Embassy in Paris denies reports it has closed after shooting

The embassy which has changed its Twitter pic to "Je suis Charlie" in solidarity with the French magazine tweeted this: 

 

 

16:16 - Leaders of French Muslim community fear backlash

The Local has just spoken to Samy Debah, the president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

He fears that there will be retribution against innocent Muslims.

"After the victims of this attack, the next victim will certainly be a Muslim," Debah said, who strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

"Muslims in France have nothing to do with these attackers. We are not responsible, neither individually or collectively".

16:06 - Condemnation from the Arab world, via AFP

The Arab League and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, both condemned a deadly attack Wednesday on a Paris satirical newspaper.

"Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris," the League said after gunmen stormed the weekly's offices killing at least 12 people and chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

Al-Azhar condemned the "criminal attack," saying that "Islam denounces any violence", in remarks carried by Egypt's state news agency MENA.

In a separate statement to AFP, Al-Azhar senior official Abbas Shoman said the institution "does not approve of using violence even if it was in response to an offence committed against sacred Muslim sentiments".

Charlie Hebdo has sparked anger in the past among Muslims for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed.

16:02 - Danish newspaper in shock, security stepped up

The foreign editor of Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, which caused outrage in the Muslim world in 2006 when it published cartoons of Muhammad, has expressed shock at the attacks.
 
"This sends a chill down the spine", he said in an interview with his own paper.
 
Of Charlie Hebdo, he said: "They didn't shut their mouths... now they've paid the ultimate price."
 
Security has been stepped up at the offices:
 
Jyllands-Posten informed its staff by e-mail about the unspecified security measures after the armed attack on the Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in which at least 12 were killed, the Danish paper Berlingske said on its website
 
"Surveillance and the level of security in and around our headquarters in Copenhagen and in (the west Danish city of) Viby has been increased," Berlingske quoted the email as saying.
 
"We are following closely the situation in connection with the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier today."
 
15:50 - The latest from France's interior minister after a crisis cabinet meeting:

"First I want to confirm the terrible news of the number of deaths," said Bernard Cazeneuve. "There are twelve fatalities, eight wounded, including four in a critical state."

"The goal of ours is to ensure the security of the French people at all points throughout the territory," he said, before confirming that the terror alert had been raised to maximum.

"I sent a telegram to the local prefects requesting them to take all precautions at stations, places of transportation, institutions ...," said the minister.

"All the means of the government have been mobilized so that the investigation unfolds rapidly, and so that we can identify the perpetrators and arrest them so that they are punished with the severity that their barbaric act deserves," Cazeneuve, said. 

15:46: Another photo of the scene of the shooting from Reuters:

 

And a tweet from Amnesty International:

 

15:41 - "I'd rather die standing"

Le Monde has highlighted an interview it did with Stéphane Charbonnier in 2012, in which he said "It might sound a bit pompous to say so, but I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees".

 

15:33 White House had condemned Charlie Hebdo

In 2012 the magazine Charlie Hebdo was condemned by the White House for it's decision to publish the cartoons of Mohamed.

We have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, while adding "it is not in any way justification for violence."

"We don't question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it," Carney said.

15:26 - "There was a lot of blood"

The Local has just spoken to a man, who asked not to be named, who works in the same building as the Charlie Hebdo offices. He said: "We could just hear this strange noise coming through the air conditioning vents. We had not idea what had happened until the police came in to see if we were ok. It was only when we went outside to the stairs that we saw there was lots of blood."

15:23 - More reaction from Muslim community leaders in Paris:

The current rector of the Grande Mosque in Paris DALIL BOUBAKEUR, told reporters at the scene: "This attack is against all our values. We are absolutely horrified and stupified by this crime. We are entering an extremely dangerous situation in Paris when violence is becoming a part of daily life".

15:19 - Manhunt under way

Hollande says the gunmen "will be hunted for as long as it takes. They will be brought before a judge and condemned".

15:14 - Charlie Hebdo's editor had been on Al qaeda's most wanted list

According to an 2013 article in the site The Wire Stephane Charbonnier, editor of Charlie Hebdo and one of the victims in today's shooting was on Al Qaeda's most wanted list:

"Stephane Charbonnier: Editor of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical magazinethat has published several mocking images of Mohammed on its cover (and got its office firebombed as a result.)"

15:08 - More details have emerged about how the gunmen got away.

The gunmen reportedly fled in a black Citroen car from the scene of the shooting in the 11th arrondissement. They then dumped the car on Rue de Meaux in the 19th arrondissement just around the corner from The Local's offices. They then hijacked another car and fled towards Porte de Pantin in the north east edge of the of the city. In doing so they ran over a pedestrian, who was left injured.

The man hunt is currently centred around the Seine Saint-Denis to the north and east of Paris.

This video clip shows police removing the getaway car from Rue de Meaux:

14:47: A rally is being organised for this evening in Paris in defence of freedom of speech. We are not sure who the organisers are but the word is being spread on Twitter to turn up at Place de la Republique at 7pm to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

 

 

14:47: Here's an earlier image of one of the victims being lead away to an ambulance.

 

14:38 - The twittersphere is "showing solidarity" with Charlie Hebdo by tweeting under the hashtag "Je suis Charlie".

14:33 - More reaction from the scene of the shooting:

The imam of the town of Drancy Hassan Chalgoumi tells The Local of his disgust at the attack on Charlie Hebdo:

"I send my sympathies to the families of the victims," he said. "I am very angry. We must avoid at all costs equating these barbarians with the majority of Muslims. 

"If you don't agree with Charlie Hebdo cartoons then you should respond with your own cartoons, not with blood and hatred."

14:28 - This video has been posted on YouTube claiming to show the moment when the shooting takes place. It's been filmed from a rooftop above the street.

 

14:21 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin are the latest leaders to condemn the attack.

"I was shocked to learn of the despicable attack on the newspaper in Paris," the German leader wrote in a condolence letter to President Francois Hollande.

"I would like to express to you and your compatriots in this hour of suffering the sympathy of the German people as well my own sorrow, and convey my condolences to the victims' loved ones."

For his part Putin said: 

"Moscow resolutely condemns terrorism in all its forms," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency. "President Putin due to the tragic event in Paris... expresses his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of
the dead and also to the people of Paris and all the French."

14:19 - More frightening images coming through of the masked gunmen behind this morning's shooting.

 

14:14 - The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has of course been targeted before, notably in 2012 when it was firebombed after publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed.

Here's a timeline on some of the controversy the magazine has been embroiled in over the years.

14:12 - More reaction to the attack in Paris, from the EU this time.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker condemned an attack on a French satirical magazine in Paris on Wednesday in which 12 people died, calling it an an act of "barbarism".

"I am profoundly shocked by the brutal and inhuman attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. This is an intolerable act, an act of barbarism which challenges us all as human and Europeans," Juncker said in a statement issued
by the 28-nation EU.

14:07 - This pic claiming to show one of the gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo has been posted on Twitter.

 

 

14:05 More condemnation from abroad, this time from the White House:

The United States said it condemned Wednesday's deadly shooting attack on a French newspaper in the "strongest
possible terms."

"Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, speaking on MSNBC.

"Senior officials at the White House have been in close touch with their counterparts in France this morning," he added.

"The United States stand ready to work closely with the French" to help them probe the attack.

14:03 - These images are from CNN:

 

13:55 - More from AFP on what the attackers were shouting as they stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo:

The attackers who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing 12 people, shouted "we have avenged the prophet", according to witnesses cited by a police source.

In a video of the attack filmed by a man taking refuge on a nearby rooftop, the men can be heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) between rounds of heavy arms fire.

13: 55 – Various reports say Charlie Hebdo’s main cartoonists "Cabu" and "Charb", who is the editor Stephane Charbonnier, are among those killed in the shooting.

13: 51 - Here’s an image that has been tweeted showing a police car covered in bullet holes near the scene of the shooting.

13:45 - Reports say the attackers the gunmen shouted "we have avenged the prophet," according to a police source.

13:36 - If you are just catching up with what has happened in France this morning. You can read this wrap by AFP: 12 killed in terror attack on French magazine

13:44 - Here's a pic of Hollande arriving at the scene after the shooting

13:33 - Paris is now obviously on high alert after this morning's attack and reports say authorities have placed "religious buildings, large shops and transport hubs "under surveillance".

13:29 - "They stormed in, sprayed the place with bullets and then left. The attack lasted just a few seconds," police officer Emmanuel Quemenard, from the union Alliance tells The Local.

The officer said the three men wearing balaclavas entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo at around 11:30 and that the attack lasted only a few seconds. That appears to contradict some reports that said the attackers went around the office asking for the names of journalists before opening fire. 

The Officer  told The Local the three gunmen fled in a dark Citroen car to the north of Paris, before switching vehicles and heading in the direction of the Porte de Pantin to the north east of the French capital.

13:21 - Our reporter on the scene Priscillia Charles has spoken to representative of a French police union Rocco Contento:

He described what happened a short while ago.

"Three men armed with weapons like kalashnikovs entered the Charlie Hebdo offices.

"It was a real carnage inside. They ran away after leaving the building and they exchanged fire with the police.
 
"One of our colleagues is critical. Some other colleagues are wounded too.
 
"They escaped in the direction of Porte de Pantin. Police are chasing them.
 
"Charlie Hebdo is a newspaper which was under serious threats. Therefore it was under surveillance. But we didn"t expect this carnage inside.
 
"There is no discription of the attackers so far. We know that they are 3 of them and they had their facescovered.
 
"They took the driver of a car in hostage."
 
13:20 - More witnesses reports. An employee at a nearby hairdresser tells The Local: "I saw a police car coming and a an ambulance as well. I saw people lying on the floor behind the Metro to protect themselves."
13:18 - Charlie Hebdo's last tweet, published about an hour ago, targeted Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

13:11 - Here's some LIVE images from the scene thanks to BFMTV


Live : Fusillade au siège de Charlie Hebdo par BFMTV

13:09 - One eye witness tells L'express magazine: "I thought it was people celebrating Chinese New Year by letting fireworks off, then I saw the two gunmen run out of the office and a police lying on the ground."

13:05 - Britain's PM David Cameron has condemned the attack. This from AFP:

British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the "sickening" attack on the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, which sources say left 11 people dead.

"The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press," he said in a message on Twitter.

13:02 - More distressing images of the victims of this morning's shooting coming through from AFP

13:00 - Our reporter on the scene Rory Mulholland says family members of the victims are arriving, some as can be imagined in distress. They are being led through police cordon to the scene of the shooting.

12:58 - President François Hollande has spoken of this morning's shooting. "An act of exceptional barbarism has been committed today in Paris against journalists," he said.

"No barbaric act will ever extinguish the freedom of the press."

12:56 - The gunmen behind  the deadly shooting, believed to number three, are still on the run. There have been unconfirmed reports of car chases with police and shootings in other parts of Paris. Even from our offices here, in the 19th arrondissement, we can hear a constant stream of police sirens.

 

12:49 - Here's a map of where the shooting took place:

 

12:48 - France has moved to raise its terror alert status to the maximum level after the shooting today

12:45 - The Local's reporter on the scene Rory Mulholland says there is a huge police presence now in the area around Charlie Hebdo's offices, which has lead to traffic gridlock in the area.

12:41 - Police now confirming 11 dead, including two of their own officers. Reports say the shooting took place just as a police patrol was in the area. Officers "didn't hesitate to open fire".

12:38 - French president François Hollande is heading to the scene, which is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, just off Boulevard Richard Lenoir. An emergency cabinet meeting is to be held at 2pm.

12:36 - This picture from AFP shows emergency crews taking one victim away in an ambulance.

 

12:33 - Latest reports say it was three armed gunmen who burst in to the offices and opened fire indiscriminately with heavy automatic weapons.

12:32 - No sign yet as to the motive for the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, but speculation will persist that it may be Muslim extremists. The offices were firebombed in 2011 after the magazine published cartoon images of the prophet Mohammed.

12:29 - French prosecutors have now confirmed there are 10 casualties in the shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

12:24: Still varying reports on number of casualties. Police sources have now told AFP there is one confirmed dead and six injured. 

12:20 The tweet below shows staff members taking refuge on the roof of the offices.

12:00: Reports say armed gunmen have stormed the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, leaving "casualties", according to a cartoonist at the magazine whose offices were petrol bombed in 2011 after it published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.

"I think there are casualties," Renaud Luzier told AFP, while other reports said there were at least two wounded in the attack. 

Reports on the number of casualties vary, with Reuters claiming 10 people have been left dead while local French media reports say seven have been killed.

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