Charlie Hebdo MedicsSource: RT

12 dead and 4 critically injured in Wednesday terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo satire magazine offices in France. Police investigations continue.

In an attack that has been condemned as “an act of indescribable barbarity” by French President, Francois Hollande, 12 people have been shot dead, with 7 more left injured, after three gun men raided Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication house in Paris, France.

The shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo occurred yesterday – Wednesday, Jan. 8 – leading the French Police to a massive manhunt for the escaped killers, as well as raising the security alert level in the country to the “highest notch,” beefing up armed presence at official buildings, media offices, churches, department stores, and tourist attractions.

Two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs (automatic assault rifles). A few minutes later we heard lots of shots,” according to eyewitness Benoit Bringer. Bringer also added that the assailants were seen fleeing the shooting scene after carrying out their dastardly act. Other witnesses reported seeing a gun duel between the trio and the police just before the made a getaway in a car which was likely to have been hijacked. Videos posted to viral video sharing sites show one of the attackers shooting a badly injured police officer in the head, as he lay on the pavement.

Gunmen In Street

Investigations continue, but several suspects have been arrested and were detained overnight. In the case of Hamyd Mourad, he turned himself in after seeing his name on the list of suspects, but claims he was at college at the time of the attack. Other reports of similar suspects in black hoods have surfaced around France, but so far, there has been no conclusive connection to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Reports from the police say that 2 of the 12 killed were police officers, adding that 4 of the 7 injured are in critical condition. One of the officers, Ahmed Merabet, was a Muslim. Many are honoring his sacrifice as particularly noteworthy given that he was a practitioner of the very faith the cartoonists satirized. Supporters on social media have echoed the popular #JeSuisCharlie with #JeSuisAhmed and quoted Voltaire saying, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The attack occurred at 11:30 am local time, just about the time the editorial team at Charlie Hebdo were having a weekly editorial meeting, leaving the editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, and three other cartoonists dead. A police source quoted a survivor as claiming the attackers shouted: “We have avenged the prophet!” and “Allah Akbar,” meaning “God is great.”

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The attack seems to come as a response to the satirical magazine repeatedly making caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in its cartoon publications. The Charlie Hebdo magazine is famous for taking a left-wing radicalist stance, often publishing articles and cartoons mocking the far-right, religion, and extremism.

In addition to the plethora of death threats the editorial chief had been getting overtime, which prompted him to hire bodyguards, the publication outfit was the victim of a bombing attack in November 2011, after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover. Though the Charlie Hebdo magazine had continued to face undying verbal as well as physical attacks, they remained unfazed, as they continued to exercise their freedom of speech and press. In 2011, after the bombing incident, they put out a new issue with a cover drawing of a bearded, presumably Muslim man kissing a cartoonist. The caption was “L’amour: Plus fort que la haine”, which translates to “Love: Stronger than hate.”

Meanwhile, world leaders have rallied round the people of France in this bad time, condemning the Charlie Hebdo attack in the strongest terms. While U.S. President Obama condemned the attack, referring to the incident as “horrific,” the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, described the attack as “sickening” and said Britain stood with France in the fight against terror. In both the UK and Germany, flags are flying at half-mast to honor those lost in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

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