Police hunt brothers named in slaughter of 12 at French magazine Charlie Hebdo
Huge manhunt in Paris continues for two brothers after three gunmen carry out bloody massacre ‘to avenge Prophet Mohammed’ after third attacker surrenders to police
The youngest of three French nationals being sought by police for a suspected Islamist militant attack that killed 12 people at a satirical magazine on Wednesday turned himself into police, an official at the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
This came as another gunman wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying an automatic rifle opened fire on police, seriously injuring two officers in southern Paris on Thursday. One person was detained but the authorities said it was too early to say if the shooting at Porte de Chatillon was linked to the Charlie Hebdo killings.
Gunmen shooting a wounded police officer (right) on the ground at point-blank range, as they flee the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in this still image taken from amateur video shot yesterday. Hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam, killing at least 12 people. – Reuters pic, January 8, 2015.
The hooded attackers stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly known for lampooning Islam and other religions, in the most deadly militant attack on French soil in decades.
French police were still in a huge manhunt for two of the attackers who escaped by car after shooting dead some of France’s top cartoonists as well as two police officers.
Police issued a document to forces across the region naming the three as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996, who handed himself in to police.
The police source said one of them had been identified by his identity card, which had been left in the getaway car.
An official at the Paris prosecutor’s office said Mourad had turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, some 230 kilometres northeast of Paris near the Belgium border.
BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the man had decided to go to the police after seeing his name in social media. It said other arrests had taken place in circles linked to the two brothers.
The Kouachi brothers were from the Paris region while Mourad was from the area of the northeastern city of Reims, the government source told reporters.
The police source said one of the brothers had previously been tried on terrorism charges.
Cherif Kouachi was charged with criminal association related to a terrorist enterprise in 2005 after he was arrested before leaving for Iraq to join Islamist militants. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008, according to French media.
Police published pictures of the two brothers on Thursday morning calling for witnesses and describing the two men as “armed and dangerous”.
A police source said anti-terrorism police searching for the suspects had been preparing an operation in Reims, and that there had already been a number of searches at locations across the country as part of the investigation.
A reporter in Reims saw anti-terrorism police secure a building before a forensics team entered an apartment there while dozens of residents looked on. They did not appear to be preparing a major raid.
Charlie Hebdo is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on religious leaders and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed. The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State.
“An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris,” President Francois Hollande said. “This is a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it.” His government raised the alert level to the highest.
Warning: Video contains violent scenes
Amateur video broadcast by French media showed two hooded men outside the building.
One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to shoot him dead at point-blank range. The two then walk over to a black saloon car and drive off.
In another clip on television station iTELE, they were heard shouting: “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed.”
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said everything was being done to “neutralise as quickly as possible the three criminals that committed this barbaric act”.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said security would be ramped up around the capital.
10 journalists and 2 police officers were killed. Another 20 people were injured in the attack, including up to five critically.
Among those killed were editor-in-chief Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, co-founder Jean “Cabu” Cabut and Bernard Maris, an economist who was among the paper’s contributors and appeared regularly on French radio. France was already on alert after calls from militants to attack its citizens in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East.
Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim faith, condemned an “immensely barbaric act also against democracy and freedom of the press” and said its perpetrators could not claim to be true Muslims.
Rico, a friend of Cabut, who joined the Paris vigil, said his friend had paid for people misunderstanding his humour.
“These attacks are only going to get worse. It’s like a tsunami, it won’t stop and what’s happening today will probably feed the National Front,” he told reporters without giving his family name.
The far-right National Front has won support on discontent over immigration to France. Some fear Wednesday’s attack could be used to feed anti-Islamic agitation.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen said it was too early to draw political conclusions but added: “The increased terror threat linked to Islamic fundamentalism is a simple fact.”
France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.
The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed 8 people and injured 150.
Associated Press, Reuters
Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar condemned the killing of his fellow cartoonists at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday, and proposed that the tragedy be remembered as “World Cartoonist Day”.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, said January 7 should be declared as “World Cartoonist Day” to honour Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier, and cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous.
Zunar, who is known at home for his satirical and political cartoons, said every cartoonist should be allowed to criticise any party through his or her cartoons.