"Paris est Charlie." Solidarity with the slain journalists and policemen of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“Paris est Charlie.” Solidarity with the slain journalists and policemen of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Three masked assailants attacked the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people in a hail of gunfire and fleeing by car as they battled with police in the streets. Four victims remain in critical condition. Police have identified two of the suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kauachi and are currently working to apprehend them.*

The terrorist attack is the deadliest in France since the post-war period. Charlie Hebdo has drawn threats for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the past. The magazine’s lawyer confirmed that four cartoonists who worked on the publication, including editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as ‘Charb’, were among the dead. The cartoonists as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were also killed in the attack.

French president François Hollande called the attack of a display of “barbarism” that was “without a doubt” an act of terrorism. He declared Thursday a national day of mourning. Hollande also issued a nationwide terror alert, saying several terror attacks had been stopped in recent weeks.

Witnesses say the attackers shouted “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great.” A witness reported the attackers spoke fluent French and claimed to be part of Al Qaeda. One was a driver while the other two were the attackers. A security camera captures them saying: “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”

Hollande stated, “This is an attack on free speech. No one can harm the spirit of the country, which is the newspaper.” In a somber address to the nation Hollande pledged to pursue the killers until they were caught: “Let us unite, and we will live. Vive la France!”

Crowds gathered in Paris and throughout France and Europe carrying signs saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).

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