Gunmen in Paris Kill 12 at Offices of Satirical Newspaper Charlie Hebdo
PARIS — Masked gunmen opened fire in the offices of a French satirical newspaper on Wednesday in Paris, the police said, with initial reports saying that as many as 12 people had been killed and 10 wounded.
Xavier Castaing, the head of communications for the Paris Police Headquarters, said that 11 people had died, The Associated Press reported. However, a senior French prosecutor said the toll was 12, including two police officers, in the early afternoon.
The news channel France Info quoted a witness as saying that he saw the episode from a nearby building in the heart of the French capital.
“About a half an hour ago, two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs,” the witness, Benoît Bringer, told the station.
“A few minutes later, we heard lots of shots,” he said, adding that the men were then seen fleeing the building.
Mr. Castaing, the police spokesman, said that the three armed men, wearing masks, had forced their way into the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and had fired indiscriminately at people in the lobby, hitting many. He said that they were carrying AK-47 weapons, and that the attack had lasted several minutes before the attackers fled by car.
The police said that an abandoned car used by the gunmen had been discovered by police in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris, a neighborhood with a large immigrant population.
President François Hollande was headed to the scene of the shooting, in the 11th Arrondissement. He said the shooting was “undoubtedly a terrorist attack” and ordered the nation’s terror alert status raised to the highest level.
Charlie Hebdo has been attacked in the past for satirizing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after publishing a cartoon of the prophet on its cover promising “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”
The cover of the newspaper on Wednesday featured a caricature of Michel Houellebecq, a controversial novelist whose sixth novel, “Submission,” predicts a future France run by Muslims, in which women forsake Western dress and polygamy is introduced. On the cover, Mr. Houellebecq is depicted as a wizard and smoking a cigarette. “In 2022, I will do Ramadan,” he is shown saying.
HE'S A GOOD MAN: Errata from the Times:
The weekly was born in controversy in 1970 with the ban of a publication called Hara-Kiri after it mocked the death of former President Charles de Gaulle. That prompted its journalists to set up a new weekly, Charlie Hebdo, a reference to its reprint of Charlie Brown cartoons from the United States.
Terrorists attacked Charlie Brown?!?