Charlie Hebdo attack: Man surrenders, two at large
A manhunt is underway for two other suspects in the shooting, brothers and French nationals Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, who are believed to have links to a Yemeni terrorist network.
Hamyd Mourad, 18, handed himself in to police, a development officials announced in the early hours of this morning.
A total of seven people have already been arrested as police continue to investigate yesterday’s incident, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.
Journalists at Charlie Hebdo were holding a morning editorial meeting yesterday as attackers carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles burst in and opened fire before escaping into the streets of eastern Paris.
Last night, the terror threat in France was at its highest possible level as a massive manhunt continued for the three men responsible for the attack – the worst militant incident ever on French soil.
One of the officials said the trio were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. It has also been reported that the two older men returned from Syria last summer.
The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said “all means” had been mobilised to “neutralise the three criminals who have committed this barbaric act”.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in Paris’s Place de la République and in cities across the world to light candles in memory of the dead and to defend freedom of expression.
French prosecutors said the attackers had killed one person in the “welcome” area of the building before going to the second floor, where they targeted the meeting. They are believed to have known the time and place the meeting was due to take place and to have asked for journalists by name.
Two policemen were also among the victims of the gunmen, who shouted “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”) as they fired on officers after leaving the building.
A policeman was filmed lying on the pavement, wounded, before he was shot in the head by one of two gunmen filmed fleeing the scene. The attackers then jumped into a stolen black Renault Clio and escaped.
One man filmed the attackers as they fled. The witness, who did not want to be named, said they were so methodical that he at first mistook them for France’s elite anti-terrorism forces before they fired on the police officer.
“They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot,” he said. “While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the coup de grâce.
“They ran back to the car [and] drove off almost casually.”
French prosecutor François Molins said 11 people were wounded in the attack, four of them seriously, and called for witnesses to help police track the gunmen down.
“The investigations are very numerous and we have mobilised a great number of police who are pursuing this inquiry,” he said.
The weekly left-leaning newspaper is known for its irreverent attitude and satirical cartoons but has caused major controversy by publishing articles and cartoons which Islamist groups found offensive. Five years ago, its office was firebombed.
Among the victims of yesterday’s attack were editor Stéphane Charbonnier, who was known as Charb, as well as well-known cartoonists Jean Cabut (Cabu), Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) and Georges Wolinski.
Cabu and Wolinski were involved with the newspaper from its beginnings 45 years ago.
Bernard Maris, an economist, writer and journalist who was a shareholder in the magazine, was also believed killed. Eight of the victims were said to be journalists and two policemen. It is believed Charbonnier’s police bodyguard was among the dead.
Cartoonist Corinne Rey, who drew under the name of Coco, told newspaper Humanité that she had let the gunmen into the building after being threatened.
“I had gone to pick up my daughter at nursery,” she said. “When I arrived in front of the newspaper building’s door, two hooded gunmen brutally threatened us. They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code.
“They fired on Wolinski, Cabu … it lasted five minutes … I sheltered under a desk … they spoke perfect French … claimed to be from al-Qaeda.”
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at places of worship, stores, media offices and transportation hubs.
The last cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo on its Facebook page, just before the attackers entered the building, was an image of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with the words “Best wishes, by the way”.
The Charlie Hebdo website was replaced with a single picture emblazoned with the words “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), a phrase which has been adopted by social media users in support of those who died.
Radio France, Le Monde and France Télévisions issued a statement saying they will offer staff and other support to help the magazine “continue to live”.
Speaking to Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten after the 2011 attacks, Mr Charbonnier, who has previously received death threats and had police protection, claimed he was not concerned. “As I see it, the extreme religions are neither particularly strong or organised in France,” he said. “I cannot imagine an organisation that will bring us to our knees.”
In a separate interview, he added: “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”
Flemming Rose, foreign editor of Jyllands-Posten, which published cartoons of the Prophet in 2006, said yesterday that when he heard of the shootings, he had an “icy feeling down his spine”.
President Francois Hollande declared today a day of mourning and said flags would fly at half mast for three days.
Members of Edinburgh’s French community gathered outside the country’s consulate in the city holding roses to mark the “heinous attack”.
French-born MSP Christian Allard was among the crowd. He said: “The turnout here tonight shows the alliance between the people of France and the people of Scotland.”
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