Terror in Paris: 12 dead in gun attack at French magazine

Published: January 8, 2015
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Gunmen shoot a police officer outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. PHOTO: REUTERS

Gunmen shoot a police officer outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS: 

Heavily armed hooded men stormed the Paris headquarters of a satirical weekly known for stand-ups of ‘radical Islam’ on Wednesday, killing 12 people in cold blood in the worst attack in France in decades.

The assault on Charlie Hebdo headquarters in a quiet Paris neighbourhood sparked a massive manhunt as the two gunmen managed to escape, executing a wounded police officer as they fled. The men remained on the run in the early evening, with few clues on their whereabouts and parts of the French capital in lockdown.

Prosecutors said witnesses heard the gunmen shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they carried out the attack. Police said the calm, calculated manner of the assault showed they were highly trained.

Victims included four prominent cartoonists, including the chief editor, who had been holding a morning meeting when the assailants armed with Kalashnikovs burst in and opened fire, officials said.

President Francois Hollande immediately rushed to the scene of what he called ‘an act of exceptional barbarism’ and ‘undoubtedly a terrorist attack’.

Amateur video shot after the bloodbath showed two men masked and dressed head-to-toe in black military style running toward a wounded policeman as he lay on the pavement. The attacker says “you wanted to kill me?” before shooting the officer in the head execution style. The gunmen then climb into their getaway vehicle and drive off.

Large numbers of police and ambulances rushed to the scene, where shocked residents spilled into the streets. Reporters saw bullet-riddled windows and people being carried out on stretchers. Two policemen were confirmed among the dead and four people were critically injured.

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.

In a sign of such tensions, a media group’s office in Madrid was evacuated later in the day after a suspicious package was sent there.

One man, who witnessed the attack, described a scene like ‘in a movie’. “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.”

An employee at a nearby daycare centre said he was walking with children when panic erupted. “People leaned out of the window and yelled at me to get off the pavement,” he said. “We got out of there very fast,” said Jean-Paul Chevalier, 56. “People were panicking. I heard shooting.”

Hollande called for ‘national unity’, adding that “several terrorist attacks had been foiled in recent weeks”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage at the ‘terrible terrorist attack’ which he described as a ‘horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime’. Similarly, US President Barack Obama condemned the ‘cowardly, evil’ attack, while British Prime Minister David Cameron called it ‘sickening’. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack was ‘despicable’ and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the Arab League condemned the violence.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu strongly condemned the shooting and said to associate Islam with terrorism would be a mistake, while Saudi Arabia denounced the “cowardly terrorist act that is rejected by true Islamic religion as well as the rest of the religions and beliefs.”

While the Muslim states unanimously condemned the attack, for which group immediately claimed responsibility, a fighter of the Islamic State group told Reuters that the raid was revenge for insults against Islam. “These are our lions. It’s the first drops – more will follow,” said Abu Mussab, a Syrian who fights with the Islamic State.

Wednesday’s shooting was the worst attack in France in at least four decades. It revived fears of a return to the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s when France was hit by a wave of extremist violence.

The satirical newspaper attacked Wednesday gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted blasphemous cartoons 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 sacrilegious cartoon. Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial caricatures.

Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who had lived under police protection after receiving death threats, was among the victims. Others included Jean Cabut, known across France as Cabu; Georges Wolinski; and Bernard Verlhac, better known as Tignous.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2015.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (22)

  • Mr Khan
    Jan 8, 2015 - 3:28AM

    My condolences to the friends and families of the victims. May Allah have mercy on them.

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  • Prada
    Jan 8, 2015 - 6:27AM

    The war has been started against civilization. The rest of the world is still sitting on its hands.

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  • Jai
    Jan 8, 2015 - 6:29AM

    This is a Mumbai-style attack – well planned and executed. The disease is spreading while the world is looking the other way.

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  • Real Deal
    Jan 8, 2015 - 6:53AM

    Where are all the comments?

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  • Stewart J
    Jan 8, 2015 - 7:23AM

    The time for the main idea behind these barbarism to be addressed has come. The gloves will be off soon just like it happened with communism.

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  • jk
    Jan 8, 2015 - 8:54AM

    This is what happen when you mock other’s religion.

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  • Asad
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:24AM

    America and Israel must be cooking something..

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  • Uber
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:33AM

    Newton Said: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. unfortunately, the Muslims can not sketch Jesus and David. so the reaction changes its state and transforms its shape.

    Deadly Laws of Science.

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  • Anon
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:50AM

    Good to see our Pakistani friends condemning these attacks, as they are afraid that France will hold Pakistan responsible for these attacks. Our Pakistani friends fear France attack on Pakistan same as the US did in Iraq and Afghanistan…:))

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  • Jan 8, 2015 - 10:23AM

    Deplorable act of terrorism!

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  • Don Barzini
    Jan 8, 2015 - 10:35AM

    Ironically, This act of violence is brought to you by the Religion of Peace, regardless of what the apologists are going to say. This is Part of Religion of Peace’s Greatest Hits collection.

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  • unknown
    Jan 8, 2015 - 11:24AM

    May Allah bless the brothers!

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  • Pak
    Jan 8, 2015 - 11:30AM

    @Anon U wish Pakistan was scared of France attacking.

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  • A.M.Khan
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:24PM

    @Jai:
    Well Mumbai attack was planned by India, who else has such a master planner mind?

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  • Hamid
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:25PM

    @unknown:
    Are you a troll are are you just stupid?

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  • ali
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:30PM

    @Anon:
    same style as peshawar massacre . some indians should also condemn this, as France may find the attack’s relevance with peshawar massacre conducted by indian backed TTP.

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  • allag
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:53PM

    @Pak: are you implying that french did this to themselves. in that case peshawar is a result of pakistanis love with peace.

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  • allag
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:56PM

    @ali: keep thinkinking like this if it gives you peace. war on terror has made your politicians rich and you still harp on your neighbor.

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  • ali
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:57PM

    @ali: ask imran, he knows better who backs TTP.

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  • A Muslim
    Jan 9, 2015 - 2:26PM

    Can the same French or Danish magazine publish anything antisemitic? Whenever you have unfair and inequal laws, lawlessness is a natural consequence.

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  • AliKaBaap
    Jan 9, 2015 - 2:58PM

    @ali:
    @A.M.Khan:
    Truth hurts right?

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  • Truth be told
    Jan 10, 2015 - 12:58AM

    I am an atheist. Whenever and whoever claims that there are Gods (like Hindus) and those who claim that there is a ‘One and only God’ and all other Gods are false God. it hurts my atheist sentiment. Now should I be morally justified to pick up the gun and slaughter those believers from either camp?
    Are ‘sentiment’ and ‘feelings’ are peculiar to only the religious herd?
    If there is a freedom for religious expression, there should equally be right to speak against the religion.

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