January 7, 2015 Last Updated 7:14 am

Offices of French satirical newspaper attacked by masked gunmen, 12 reported killed

The offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were attacked by three gunmen, the editor and several prominent cartoonists are among those known to have died

The satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, was attacked by masked gunmen in Paris on Wednesday. Police reports say 12 were killed at the paper, and at least 10 wounded.

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Stéphane Charbonnier

The weekly newspaper has, in the past, satirized Islam, and speculation already is that this was the catalyst for the attack. In 2006, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon on its front page which showed a weeping Prophet Muhammad saying “C’est dur d’être aimé par des cons” which translates to it’s hard being loved by jerks. In 2011, Charlie Hebdo offices were firebombed after another cartoon appeared that featured the Prophet Muhammad.

Then, in 2012, following the appearance of controversial cartoons, France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said “Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?”

In response, the newspaper’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, told Reuters “It shows the climate. Everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want: to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave.” Around the same time, in a Le Monde interview, Charbonnier said “I don’t feel as though I’m killing someone with a pen. I’m not putting lives at risk. When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it.”

(Note: This post contains reports from French media sources that may not be easy to confirm.)

French media is reporting that Charbonnier was among those killed today, along with several cartoonists – Jean Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac (known as Tignous).

Hollande-visit-smThe French President François Hollande tweeted a response to the attack today, saying “Aucun acte barbare ne saura jamais éteindre la liberté de la presse. Nous sommes un pays unis qui saura réagir et faire bloc.” (No barbaric act will never extinguish the freedom of the press. We are a united country which will know how to react and will side together.)

Hollande visited the scene and told reporters that he believed the attack a terrorist act and that “several terrorist attacks were thwarted in recent weeks.”

France24 is reporting that the attackers were armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher, according to investigators. Staff cartoonist Corine Rey told the French weekly paper L’Humanité that she let the men into the building at gunpoint and that they told her they were Al Qaida. It is also being reported that two policemen were killed in the attack, one of them assigned to provide protection for Charbonnier. A gun battle between police and the gunmen occurred outside the newspaper’s offices, and a video shows the gunmen executive a wounded police officer on the sidewalk, then the group drove away.

The newspaper’s website has been offline or unavailable since the attack.

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