Gunmen open fire at French satirical newspaper

At least 12 people were killed when gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket launcher opened fire in the offices of French satirical weekly,  Charlie Hebdo, on Wednesday, Paris prosecutors said.

“At this stage” 12 people are dead, said the prosecutor’s office, without detailing how many had been injured.

Some of the best-known cartoonists in France were among those killed, a judicial source said. Publishing director Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, and the cartoonists known as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were killed in the attack on the paper.

Deputy Mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard had said earlier that “six people are seriously injured”, including a police officer. 

Warning: This video clip of the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo headquarters may disturb sensitive viewers.

French President Francois Hollande was on his way to the scene of the shooting and called an emergency cabinet meeting, the presidency said.

A source close to the investigation said two men “armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket launcher” stormed the building in central Paris and “fire was exchanged with security forces.”

The source said gunmen had hijacked a car and knocked over a pedestrian as he sped away.

The publication’s cartoonist Renaud Luzier earlier told Agence France-Presse that there were “casualties” after the incident.

Prophet Muhammad cartoon
The satirical magazine gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of Islamic Prophet Muhammad 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 the Prophet under the title “Charia Hebdo”.

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the magazine continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Prophet.

In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet naked 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.

Editor Stephane Charbonnier has received death threats and lives under police protection.

France has raised the Paris alert status to highest level after the shooting. – AFP, Reuters

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