A terrorist attack in Paris has killed at least 12 in an assault on the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two of the dead are reported to be policemen. Four more are seriously injured.
Three hooded gunmen were seen entering the building armed with AK-47s and, according to some witnesses, a rocket launcher. Gunfire was then heard in the building. Two masked gunmen escaped in a black Citroen DS, running over several pedestrians as they fled.
According to Pierre de Cossette, a broadcast journalist with Europe1 News, "Several men in black cagoules were heard to shout 'The Prophet has been avenged.'" The BBC’s Frank Gardner reports that the gunmen were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The outlet said that, “Two of the gunmen were dressed in the typical jihadist "uniform" of black balaclavas, khaki ammunition pouches and were armed with Kalashnikovs.”
President Francois Hollande has visited the site of the attack and will shortly be attending an emergency cabinet meeting. France has now been raised to the highest possible threat level. The attack was the worst terrorist attack to hit France in 30 years. The president called the attack "an act of exceptional barbarism."
France 2 reported that the attack took place as staff were holding their weekly editorial meeting. Several of the magazine’s staff took refuge on the roof of the building.
Charlie Hebdo published several controversial cartoons of the founder of Islam, Mohammed, in 2011. Shortly afterwards, its offices were firebombed.
This week’s Charlie Hebdo ran a front cover depicting the Islamic State beheading the founder of Islam, Mohammed, who pleads his identity to no avail. It also ran a story about a new novel by author Michel Houllebecq about a hypothetical future in which Islamists take over France. Set in 2022, the book, titled Submission envisages an Islamist president imposing sharia law and building an Islamist state in Europe.
#JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) is trending on Twitter, as social media users offer their support to the victims of the attack.
WARNING: This following video of the attackers contains graphic images that some viewers may find distressing.