At least 12 people have been confirmed dead, while four others are critically injured after a shooting at the Paris, France offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper firebombed in the past after publishing cartoons in 2011 joking about Muslim leaders, the prosecutor has said.
Xavier Castaing, Head of Communications for the Paris Police Prefecture, confirmed the deaths to the Associated Press. French President Francois Hollande called the slayings a terrorist attack and said that several other terror attacks have been thwarted.
Hollande rushed to the scene and top government officials planned an emergency meeting. Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, said the attackers escaped in two vehicles. A witness to the attack, Benoit Bringer said he saw multiple masked men armed with automatic weapons at the newspaper’s office in central Paris.
“About half an hour ago two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs,” Bringer said. The French weekly came under fire in 2013 for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to the ire of conservative Muslims. The satirical newspaper has on several occasions depicted Islam’s prophet in an effort to defend free speech and defy the anger of Muslims who believe depicting Mohammed is sacrilegious.