*update: The three attackers have been identified as brothers Said Kouachi, 34, Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Hamyd Mourad, 18, police have confirmed. The Kouachi brothers hail from Paris while Mourad is from the area of the north-eastern city of Reims, a government source has revealed. One of the brothers had previously been tried on terrorism charges, police revealed.
Two gunmen, armed with Kalashnikovs entered the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) before opening fire during an editorial meeting yesterday according to witnesses. Police later confirmed three attackers were involved, including one who drove a car to the scene.
So far, 12 people have been confirmed dead, including eight journalists and two police officers. 11 were wounded in the daylight attack, with four of those in critical condition, according to a French prosecutor said. Video footage on the street showed one of the officers being shot by a gunman at close range as he lay injured. Police described a scene of “butchery” inside Charlie Hebdo’s offices.
The manhunt continues as the gunmen fled the scene via a side street off the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir in a car, firing at police as they fled. They abandoned the car in the 19th arrondissement where they reportedly hijacked another car, ordering the motorist out.
French President François Hollande declared a day of national mourning for Thursday, calling it a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity” and an attack at France’s freedom of expression. Flags were to fly at half mast for three days.
The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past and was firebombed in November 2011, a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had previously received death threats and was living under police protection.