Paris shooting - live report

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A police car is riddled with bullets after the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris

A police car is riddled with bullets after the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris (AFP Photo/)

Paris (AFP) - 15:11 GMT - Israeli reaction - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says his country "identifies with France's pain". He adds: "Terror and terrorists must never be permitted to sow fear in the free world and the West must stand united and determined in the face of this danger."

14:59 GMT - Spanish alert - In neighbouring Spain, media group Prisa, publisher of the country's most widely read newspaper El Pais, says it has evacuated its Madrid headquarters after receiving a suspect package.

Police ordered the evacuation after a man delivered the package containing cables around two hours after the assault in Paris, El Pais's communications director Pedro Zuazua tells AFP.

- Spain evacuation -

14:56 GMT - Minute's silence - Several unions have called for members to gather today at the Place de la Republique, near the scene of the attack in central Paris, for a minute's silence at 5:00 pm local time.

"The fact that it was Charlie Hebdo that was targeted is an important symbol. It is freedom of expression that is being assassinated," says a spokesman for the Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ).

14:45 GMT - Witness account - One man who witnessed the shooting says he saw two attackers shooting their way out of Charlie Hebdo at around 11:30 am (1030 GMT).

"I saw them leaving and shooting. They were wearing masks. These guys were serious," he says, declining to give his name.

"At first I thought it was special forces chasing drug traffickers or something. We weren't expecting this. You would think we were in a movie."

14:40 GMT - Demonstration - Close to the crime scene in Paris, on the edge of the security barrier set up by police, around a dozen journalism students have gathered holding placards reading "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) and "Journalism students united".

"It's a magazine which is really outspoken, has a great independence. Freedom is the very essence of journalism. We are preparing to become journalists and it's unacceptable to see this in France, " says student Clivia Potot-Delmas.

14:37 GMT - Target - "There have been constant threats since the Mohammed caricatures were published," Richard Malka, Charlie Hebdo's lawyer, tells RTL radio.

"We've lived under the threats for eight years. There was protection. But there is nothing that could be done against savages who come with Kalashnikovs."

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo became a major target for Islamists when it reprinted 12 cartoons of Mohammed published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in a statement for freedom of expression. The cartoons, including one which showed a bomb in place of a turban, prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

- Years of threat -

14:36 GMT - Background - Charlie Hebdo started in 1970, taking inspiration for its name from the American comic book character Charlie Brown and with the aim of mocking celebrities, political leaders and religions. It never changed course, even as the threats piled up.

14:34 GMT - Three attackers - French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says three attackers were involved in the assault on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

Everything is being done to "neutralise as quickly as possible the three criminals that committed this barbaric act," says Cazeneuve.

14:33 GMT - Confrontation - Wednesday's massacre at French weekly Charlie Hebdo took place after years of confrontation between the satirical publication and Islamists infuriated by what they see as its attacks on their religion.

Its offices were firebombed in November 2011 when it published caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed but there were no casualties in that attack.

14:30 GMT - Muslim leaders - The Arab League and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, both also condemned the shootings.

"Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris," the Arab League said in a statement.

Al-Azhar condemned the "criminal attack," saying that "Islam denounces any violence".

14:26 GMT - Obama response - US President Barack Obama condemns the Paris "terrorist attack" and pledges assistance. He says: "We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice."

- Obama offers US help -


14:19 GMT - Danish measures - The Danish newspaper that caused a global stir with a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has stepped up security after the French attack, a report says. Jyllands-Posten informed its staff by email about the unspecified security measures, the Danish paper Berlingske says on its website.

"Surveillance and the level of security in and around our headquarters in Copenhagen and in (the west Danish city of) Viby has been increased," Berlingske quoted the email as saying. "We are following closely the situation in connection with the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier today."

14:17 GMT - Latest issue - The front page of the latest issue of the weekly featured controversial French author Michel Houellebecq and his latest book, "Soumission" ("Submission"), which imagines a France in 2022 under Muslim rule.

The weekly publication, which seeks to provoke, amuse and inform mostly through irreverent cartoons, was under police protection when Wednesday's assault happened because of the constant threat it was working under. Two policemen were among those killed.


14:06 GMT - Turkey condemnation - Turkish culture and tourism minister Omer Celik says the Paris attack will only serve to deepen religious tensions in Europe.

"I reject any equation of Islam and this cowardly attack. One cannot defend Islam with such a massacre," he says.

"This attack aims to reinforce the negative perception of foreigners and Muslims in a climate in Europe of growing Islamophobia and racism."

14:03 GMT - Witness account - One witness tells AFP: "I just got a glimpse. I saw people on the roof just across who were filming. Then I saw a Citroen C3 driving, a new car. It didn't look like a terrorist car. Then the car stopped just across from where we were and two guys with black masks got out and fired with a Kalashnikov at an unknown target."

14:01 GMT - Video footage - A video posted online shows masked gunmen getting out of a black car, firing several shots and gunning down a policeman. The wounded officer is seen raising his hand and appealing to the gunmen before being shot again in the head at point black range.

The gunmen then get back in the car and drive away.

13:53 GMT - Attackers at large - A manhunt is under way in France to find those who carried out the attack, who fled in a car after unleashing a salvo of gunfire, President Hollande said earlier.

"They will be hunted down for as long as it takes for them to be arrested, brought before the courts and sentenced," he told journalists after rushing to the scene.

"France is facing a shocking event, which was undoubtedly a terrorist attack, there's no doubt," he added.

- Manhunt -

13:44 GMT - Cartoonists killed - Some of the best-known cartoonists in France are among the 12 killed in the assault on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a judicial source says.

Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, and the cartoonists known as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were killed in the attack on the paper, which gained prominence for repeatedly publishing caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.

13:39 GMT - Putin reacts - Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his condolences to the victims of the deadly attack in Paris, condemning terrorism in all its forms, his spokesman says

"Moscow resolutely condemns terrorism in all its forms," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells TASS news agency, adding: "Nothing can justify terrorist attacks."

"President Putin... expresses his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the dead and also to the people of Paris and all the French," Peskov says


13:31 GMT - School trips stopped - School trips and outdoor activities at schools in Paris and the surrounding areas of Creteil and Verseilles have been suspended under new security measures put in place immediately after the attack.

The "attack alert" -- France's highest security level -- allows exceptional measures to be put in place including banning large gatherings and parking near schools, as well as additional restrictions and patrols in sensitive areas.

- Security clampdown -

13:27 GMT - 'Free speech attacked' - "Completely defenceless and innocent people became the victims of what appears to be an attack on free speech," Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt says in a statement.

"The French society, like ours, is open, democratic and based on a free and critical press. Those are values that deeply rooted in all of us, and which we shall protect. It is also those very values that make France a strong society that can withstand an attack like this."

Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper was targeted in a terror plot after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

13:14 GMT - Merkel 'condolences' - More European leaders have added their voices to the chorus of condemnation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the "despicable" attack in a condolence letter to President Francois Hollande.

"I was shocked to learn of the despicable attack on the newspaper in Paris," she wrote.

"I would like to express to you and your compatriots in this hour of suffering the sympathy of the German people as well my own sorrow, and convey my condolences to the victims' loved ones."


13:09 GMT - Islamic reaction - The Union of Islamic Organisations in France condemns "this criminal attack and these horrific murders in the strongest possible terms".

13:02 GMT - 'Pools of blood' - A journalist working in the area opposite the Charlie Hebdo offices describes on iTELE seeing "bodies on the floor, pools of blood, some very serious injuries". "People from Charlie Hebdo came and sat in our building to calm down a bit," she adds.

Television footage has shown large numbers of police in the area, bullet-riddled windows and people being carried away on stretchers.

- Bullet-riddled windows -

12:55 GMT - US condemnation - The United States condemns the shooting attack in the "strongest possible terms". "Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack," White House spokesman Josh Earnest says, speaking on MSNBC.

12:53 GMT - Police deaths - Among the 12 dead, are two police officers, according to Paris's public prosecutor's department. A source close to the investigation said that one of them, killed on the premises, was protecting Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, the magazine's editor.

12:46 GMT - Deadliest attacks in decades - With at least 12 deaths, the attack against the offices of Charlie Hebdo is the deadliest attack in France for at least 40 years.

12:41 GMT - European angst - Houellebecq insists his book is "a political fiction, a satire" but it is likely to fuel creeping European angst against Muslim immigration.

An influx of mostly Muslim immigrants, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere, at a time of European economic malaise has increased Europeans' fears that their cultures are under assault and strengthened the hand of anti-immigrant far-right parties.


12:36 GMT - Islamist slogans - In a video of the attack, filmed by a man taking refuge on a roof, and put online on the site francetvinfo, a man can be heard shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) between several bursts of gunfire.

According to a police source, the gunmen also shouted "we have avenged the prophet".

- 'Avenging' the Prophet -

12:32 GMT - Houellebecq book - Michel Houellebecq's new novel, "Soumission" ("Submission") tells the story of an Islamic government emerging from 2022 French elections ditching traditional parties for the far-right National Front and a new Muslim Brotherhood-styled party.

"Soumission" conjures up a France where a Muslim president takes power and establishes Sharia law under which women are made to wear veils and are excluded from jobs, and the Sorbonne University is renamed the Paris-Sorbonne Islamic University.


12:27 GMT - Latest edition - The front page of today's edition of Charlie Hebdo features a cartoon of controverisal French author Michel Houellebecq, who has penned a book imagining a future France coming under Islamic rule.

Houellebecq, pictured smoking a cigarette, is quoted as saying "In 2015 I will lose my teeth" and "in 2022 I will do Ramadan".

12:26 GMT - 'Act of barbarism' - Hollande has confirmed that 11 people are dead and another four are in critical condition after the attack, branding it an "act of exceptional barbarism".

He called for "national unity", adding that "several terrorist attacks had been foiled in recent weeks".

12:24 GMT - 'Barbaric attack' - More reaction from British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in parliament in London: "I'm sure the whole House will want to join me in condemning the barbaric attack this morning on an office of a magazine in Paris, in which it has been reported that 10 or more people may have been killed."

"While details are still unclear I know that this house and this country stands united with the French people in our opposition to all forms of terrorism and we stand squarely for free speech and democracy. And these people will never be able to take us off these values."


12:17 GMT - IS cartoon - The latest tweet from the Charlie Hebdo Twitter account, posted about two hours ago, is a satirical cartoon of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which he wishes good health.

12:13 GMT - 'Tears' - French minister Laurence Rossignol tweets: "More tears than words at the horror of the attack whose victims are employees of Charlie Hebdo, police and their families."

12:12 GMT - Witness account - A postwoman who was making a delivery at the time the attack began says: "I was in the building at the end of the corridor. People came in, they were looking for Charlie Hebdo, then they fired to frighten us, no one was hit but I heard that there was at least one dead. We all fled."

12:03 GMT - Shots heard - Bruno Leveille, who lives near the scene of the attack in Paris's 11th arrondissement , tells AFP he heard "at 11:30 am exactly, around 30 gunfire shots over about 10 minutes".

- Sustained gunfire -

12:00 GMT - Alert raised - More details on the raising of the alert status: officials say the national security alert system has been set to "attack alert" -- the highest level -- following the killings in central Paris.


11:58 GMT - Cameron tweet - British Prime Minister David Cameron condemns the "sickening" attack in Paris:

"The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press," he says in a message on Twitter.


- Terror attack -

11:48 GMT - Death toll - The prosecutor's office confirms that "at this stage" 10 people have been killed, without detailing how many had been injured.

Another source close to the investigation says the number of dead has reached 11.


11:43 GMT - 'Six injured' - Deputy Mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard earlier said "six people are seriously injured", including a policeman. It is not clear whether these now figure among the dead.

11:40 GMT - Controversial cartoons - Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Renaud Luzier earlier told AFP there were "casualties" after the incident.

The satirical magazine gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed and under the title "Charia Hebdo".

11:37 GMT - 'Kalashnikov' - A source close to the investigation says two men "armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket-launcher" stormed the building in central Paris and "fire was exchanged with security forces".

The source said gunmen had hijacked a car and knocked over a pedestrian as they sped away.


11:31 GMT - Hollande en route - French President Francois Hollande is on his way to the scene and has called an emergency cabinet meeting.

11:28 GMT - WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the shootings in Paris where at least 10 people are dead after armed gunmen stormed the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.