French officials have confirmed that 12 people have been shot dead in Paris at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
According to the BBC, French president Francois Hollande has deemed the incident as a terrorist attack, killing four of the magazine’s cartoonists, including the editor, four journalists and two police officers. Another eleven people were also seriously injured.
Three hooded gunmen stormed the magazine’s daily editorial meeting before exchanging gunfire with police outside the building. Video published onto YouTube by SkyNews shows two gunmen calmly walking away from their vehicle and towards a wounded police officer on the sidewalk, with one gunman shooting the officer in the head at point-blank range.
The police officers that were first to respond to the scene were outmatched by the gunmen’s Kalashnikovs machine guns. As gunfire erupted in the city streets, gunmen could be heard screaming the names of their victims in French and exclaiming “Allahu akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is Great.”
Police immediately launched a nationwide manhunt for the men who fled the scene by car. Their car was found abandoned in a northern Paris neighbourhood after it was involved in an accident. They hijacked a car to proceed with their escape.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 7, 2015
In the aftermath, schools were also closed across Paris and security was stepped up at popular tourist attractions, public transit hubs, and government and media offices. However, later in the evening, thousands of people packed a public square near the shootings for a candlelight vigil to mourn the victims.
National leaders around the world, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have condemned the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
“I am angered and saddened to hear of the terrorist attack today in the offices of the Parisian news magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” reads a statement by Harper. “On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives during this heinous crime and wish a speedy recovery to those injured. The perpetrators of this attack must be apprehended and brought to justice.
“This barbaric act, along with recent attacks in Sydney, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and Ottawa, is a grim reminder that no country is immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”
Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened by Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other extremists for its satirical depictions of Prophet Muhammad. Depictions of the prophet are not permitted in the Muslim faith.
The magazine’s officers were firebombed in 2011 for featuring a caricature of the prophet on the cover, and a police bodyguard was provided to Stephane Charbonnier after death threats of serious nature.
Despite the numerous threats and firebomb attack, the magazine continued with its publication of caricatures of the Muhammad. Last week’s issue was even entitled “Still No Attacks in France” and included a caricature of a militant that read: “Just wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.”
Last month, dozens were injured in a number of pre-Christmas vehicle rampages in France and the drivers reportedly screamed “Allahu akbar” while ramming into crowds.
Warning: this video content may be disturbing for some
#CharlieHebdo #charlie #republique #paris #peaceful #rassemblement #jesuischarlie A photo posted by Charlotte Spill (@charlottespill) on
Feature Image: @CharlotteSpill via Instagram