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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Charlie Hebdo shooting: 12 killed at magazine that ran Muhammad cartoons

By Alastair Jamieson and Florence Viala

Two cops were among 12 people killed Wednesday when gunmen stormed the offices of a French satirical news magazine that has published cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
France raised its terror threat level following the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in central Paris and stepped up security for media organizations, large stores and places of worship. The gunmen remained at large hours after the attack.
“We will find the people who did this,” French President Francois Hollande said. “France is today shocked by this terrorist attack.”
Benoit Bringer, a journalist with Agence Premiere Ligne who saw the attack, told the iTele network he saw several masked men armed with machine guns. Television footage from the scene showed a police car with at least 10 bullet holes in the windshield.
Prosecutors confirmed that 12 people had been killed.
Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, told The Associated Press that the attackers escaped in two vehicles. NBC News could not independently confirm that account.
“It was a pretty horrible sight,” said Anders Lund, a 28-year-old musician who heard the gunshots from his apartment just 200 yards away. “I heard a few bangs, loud ones,” he told NBC News. “I did not know they were gunshots until I heard all the sirens.”
“I went down there, and there were officers and people from ambulances in the street. It was pretty chaotic. People in cafes and brasseries were standing outside trying to work out what had happened. From afar I could see people on stretchers being carried out. It did not look good.”
The White House condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms,” according to Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“Our thoughts are with our allies in France,” he told MSNBC. “We know they won’t be cowed by this act.”
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said “the murders in Paris are sickening,” adding on Twitter that the U.K. stands with France in its fight against terrorism.

Charlie Hebdo is a publication that has always courted controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders. It published cartoons of Muhammad in 2012, forcing France to temporarily close its embassies and schools in more than 20 countries amid fears of reprisals. Its offices were also firebombed in November 2011 after publishing a caricature of Muhammad on its cover.
Its most recent tweet was a cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
The magazine’s Baghdadi cartoon translates to: “Best wishes, by the way.”
“No barbaric act will ever extinguish the freedom of the press,” Hollande added in a later tweet. “We are a united country. Wednesday’s shooting is one of the worst terror attacks on French soil. In March 2012, seven people were killed in three gun attacks targeting French soldiers and Jewish civilians in Montauban and Toulouse, while a string of bombings in 1995 killed eight and injured more than 100.
Despite the heightened security, the U.S. Embassy in Paris said in a statement that it had no plans to close or limit access to diplomatic facilities in France. “We are open for business as usual,” it said.
U.S. defense officials also said there were no plans to increase the level of security for U.S. military bases and personnel throughout Europe. Despite Wednesday’s attack, there appears to be no direct or imminent threat against U.S. military installations or personnel, the officials said.
NBC News’ Cassandra Vinograd, Alexander Smith, Ed Kiernan and Jason Cumming, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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