Masked gunmen, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket-launcher, have stormed the Paris offices of the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing at least 12 and injuring 11 more.
According to witnesses, cited by a police source, the attackers shouted ‘we have avenged the prophet’. In a video filmed from a nearby rooftop, the men can be heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ between shots fired. The gunmen hijacked a car and sped away from the scene.
The offices of Charlie Hebdo were the target of a firebomb attack in 2011 in response to cartoons published about the prophet Mohammad. The magazine’s latest tweet was about Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“This is a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it,” said French President Mr Hollande.
World leaders have condemned the attack.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “This abominable act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and their security,” and “It is also an attack on freedom of speech and the press, core elements of our free democratic culture. In no way can this be justified.”
“We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron in a message on Twitter.
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Australians have woken this morning to the tragic news of the shooting deaths of at least 12 people in Paris. The gunmen targeted the Paris office of satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, which over the past decade, has published cartoons deemed insulting to certain religions. Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws for cartoons of Mohammad, the magazine continued to publish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.
I, like many, find cartoons pictured in the magazine distasteful, but I respect the rights of the journalists and cartoonists to express their views openly. The attack today in Paris is an attack on everyone’s freedom of expression and must be condemned to the fullest degree.
The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.
A rally has already been organised for this evening in Paris, urging all Parisians to take to the streets for freedom of the press, democracy and the Republic.
— David Pope (@davpope) January 7, 2015