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Wed 7 Jan 2015 03:39 PM

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Two suspects in Paris terror attack located in northern France

Update: At least 12 killed in shooting at offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper known for lampooning Islam

Two suspects in Paris terror attack located in northern France
Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, during an attack on the offices of the newspaper.

(Updated Jan 8, 14:50) Two armed suspects wanted in connection with the terrorist attack on the Paris headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday have been located in northern France, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

The news comes as it was late yesterday that the youngest of three French nationals being sought by police for a suspected Islamist militant attack that killed 12 people at the satirical magazine turned himself in to the police, an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said.

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 saying the men were being sought for murder in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The document, reviewed by a Reuters correspondent, named them as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, both from Paris, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996.

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 the youngest of the three had turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, some 230 kilometers 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 police source said Cherif Kouachi had previously been tried on terrorism charges and served 18 months in prison.

He was charged with criminal association related to a terrorist enterprise in 2005. He had been part of an Islamist cell that enlisted French nationals from a mosque in eastern Paris to go to Iraq to fight Americans in Iraq. He was arrested before leaving for Iraq to join militants.

Police published pictures of the two brothers Thursday morning calling for witnesses and describing the two men as "armed and dangerous."

The police source said anti-terrorism police searching for the suspects and links to them had carried out searches in Reims, Strasbourg and Paris as part of the investigation.

A Reuters reporter in Reims saw anti-terrorism police secure a building before a forensics team entered an apartment there while dozens of residents looked on.

During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) as shots rang out. Another walked over to a police officer lying wounded on the street and shot him point-blank with an assault rifle before the two calmly climbed into a black car and drove off.

The third man was not seen in any of the footage and it was not clear if he was directly involved in the attack.

A police union official said there were fears of further attacks, and described the scene in the offices as carnage, with a further four wounded fighting for their lives.

Tens of thousands joined impromptu rallies across France in memory of the victims and to support freedom of expression.

The government declared the highest state of alert, tightening security at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores as the search for the assailants got under way.

Some Parisians expressed fears about the effect of the attack on community relations in France, which has Europe's biggest Muslim population.

"This is bad for everyone - particularly for Muslims despite the fact that Islam is a fine religion. It risks making a bad situation worse," Cecile Electon, an arts worker who described herself as an atheist, told Reuters at a vigil on Paris's Place de la Republique attended by 35,000 people.

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders of all faiths and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. Jihadists online repeatedly warned that the magazine would pay for its ridicule.

The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and called for "lone wolf" attacks on French soil.

There was no claim of responsibility. However, a witness quoted by 20 Minutes daily newspaper said one of the assailants cried out before getting into his car: "Tell the media that it is al Qaeda in Yemen!"

Supporters of ISIL and other jihadist groups hailed the attack on Internet sites. Governments throughout Europe have expressed fear that fighters returning from Iraq or Syria could launch attacks in their home countries.

"Today the French Republic as a whole was the target," President Francois Hollande said in a prime-time evening television address. He declared a national day of mourning on Thursday.

An amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men in black outside the building. One of them spots a wounded policeman lying on the ground, hurries over to him and shoots him dead at point-blank range with a rifle.

In another clip on television station iTELE, the men are heard shouting in French: "We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad."

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the assailants killed a man at the entrance of the building to force entry. They then headed to the second floor and opened fire on an editorial meeting attended by eight journalists, a policeman tasked with protecting the magazine's editorial director and a guest.

"What we saw was a massacre. Many of the victims had been executed, most of them with wounds to the head and chest," Patrick Hertgen, an emergencies services medic called out to treat the injured, told Reuters.

A Reuters reporter saw groups of armed policeman patrolling around department stores in the shopping district and there was an armed gendarme presence outside the Arc de Triomphe.

US President Barack Obama described the attack as cowardly and evil, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the shooting.

The dead included co-founder Jean "Cabu" Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier.

Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim faith (CFCM), 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 Reuters 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 eight people and injured 150.

RA AH 4 years ago

Its unfortunate for what happened.
However, I strongly feel media should be more responsible in what they publish. Knowing that the world over people are going through a high sensitivity period; esp. on matters that concern their religious beliefs or practices, the media I think should take an extra effort to help bridge the differences between faiths and communities rather than being cynical and drfiting them apart.
"The pen is mightier than the sword" - then what are the media waiting for to bring peace into the world ?

Khalid 4 years ago

Tottaly agree with RA AH

greg 4 years ago

And the victim becomes the guilty?
If every Inman shouted out that this is an atrocity, if every one of their friends tell them that what they are doing is not in the name of religion, if every parent warned them that all those heinous crimes you will all go to hell. Then I am sure many of them will not be misled down this deviant path.
Then perhaps it will stop. It is not just the attacks in Paris, a lot of the Arab world is in turmoil with death, rape, destruction, enslavement, one sec vs another etc. all in the name of religion. This is not what Islam is about and this is what everyone should be telling the youth.
Unless we get to grips with this it will it will not stop.
The UN enshrines the right to free speech. It may be unpleasant but it is there for a reason.

whatever 4 years ago

RA AH
"Unfortunate" is not how any sane person would describe the pure cold, clinical murder of defenceless people.

If you start with that falsehood, then there will never be a way forward.

I cry for my countrymen/women.
We are all Charlie Hebdo after this atrocity.

Mike55 4 years ago

A disgusting position to take – you're effectively saying that the victims of this perversion deserved what they got.

If people were more confident in their self-held beliefs, weren't so quick to take offence over every perceived slight, and didn't insist on imposing their dogma on others, we wouldn't be constantly witnessing 'unfortunate' events of this sort.

Is their faith of these cowardly terrorists really so weak that it can be shaken by a cartoon?

JeSuisCharlie 4 years ago

What a senseless post. And once again we see how in your view the people pulling the trigger are not really to blame.
You and the people like you can not tolerate any form of freedom and will not stop until you get all of us to follow in your dark joyless world.
Shame on you.

Mike55 4 years ago

A disgusting position to take – you're effectively saying that the victims of this perversion deserved what they got.

If people of this sort weren't so quick to take offence over every perceived slight, and didn't insist on imposing their dogma on others, we wouldn't be constantly witnessing 'unfortunate' events of this sort.

Is the faith of these cowardly terrorists really so weak that it can be shaken by a cartoon?

Hamaza Ali 4 years ago

This is Barbaric any way you look at it, the result of Dogma and limited Intellectual capacity in my opinion. Freedom of Speech is an inherent right." Je suis Charlie".

JeNeSuisPasCharlie 4 years ago

This is a savage act that must be punished. There is no excuse to the senseless murder of innocent people regardless of the reason. I hope the authorities punish those murders by the capital punishment.

But do not disguise hate, racism, discrimination, and sexism with freedom of speech. There was clearly a problem and I am utterly against terrorism to use this barbaric act. But lets not all forget all the innocent people dying including the Syrian refugees from harsh conditions and depravity of basic human rights of food and water. The media is biased and it seems some lives are valued more than others


May he rest in peace...but peace is certainly not what he intended

Omar 4 years ago

There are a lot of factors that can drive people to commit extremely barbaric acts. Whether its laid off postal workers, bullied school kids, or members of religious minorities, emphasis needs to be placed on the causative factors that lead them to such acts.

There are a lot of factors that can drive people to commit extremely barbaric acts. Whether its laid off postal workers, bullied school kids, or members of religious minorities, emphasis needs to be placed on the causative factors that lead them to such acts. That said it is my personal opinion that, whilst we all support free speech, some "free Speech" can be disrespectful, and incite hatred. Republishing what in effect is disrespectful and insulting cartoons (politely termed "lampoons") is not the way to demonstrate commitment to free speech. I find it disappointing that whilst everyone reiterates their commitment to free speech no one also mentions that such cartoons are distasteful and hateful towards a particular religion.