Nairo, 2 May-2014(IANS): At least nine people have been killed in an apparent car bomb attack…
Paris(AFP): At least 12 people were killed when gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher opened fire in the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday, said sources close to the investigation.
The prosecutor’s office confirmed that at least 12 people were killed in the strike, without detailing how many had been injured.
Deputy mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard earlier said “six people are seriously injured”, including a policeman. It was not clear whether these now figured among the dead.
French President Francois Hollande arrived at the scene of the shooting and called an emergency cabinet meeting, the presidency said.
Hollande said it was a “terrorist” attack. “Today France is confronted with a shock, a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about that. Against a magazine that had been threatened repeatedly and that was being protected,” he said.
The national security alert system was set to “attack alert” following the killings in central Paris, officials said.
A source close to the investigation said two men “armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket-launcher” stormed the building in central Paris and “fire was exchanged with security forces.”
The source said a gunman had hijacked a car and knocked over a pedestrian while attempting to speed away.
The satirical newspaper gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.
Attackers shouted “we have avenged the prophet” after Wednesday’s strike, according to witnesses cited by a police source.
In a video of the attack filmed by a man taking refuge on a nearby rooftop, the men can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) between rounds of heavy arms fire.
In November 2011, the French satirical weekly’s offices were fire-bombed when it published a cartoon of Mohammad under the title “Charia Hebdo”.
Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet.
In September 2012, Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammad as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled “Innocence of Muslims”, which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.
French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks at the time.
Editor Stephane Charbonnier has received death threats and lives under police protection.
Wednesday’s attack evoked sharp reaction from across the world.
The United States said it condemned the deadly shooting in the “strongest possible terms.”
“Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said, speaking on MSNBC.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “While details are still unclear, I know that this house and this country stands united with the French people in our opposition to all forms of terrorism and we stand squarely for free speech and democracy.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Condemnable & despicable attack in Paris. Our solidarity with people of France. My thoughts are with families of those who lost their lives.”