Fresh shootout in Paris, cop dies; police converge on small town after attack suspects seen

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LATEST UPDATE:  French anti-terrorism police converged on an area northeast of Paris on Thursday after two brothers suspected of being behind an attack on a satirical newspaper were spotted at a petrol station in the region.

Two police sources said that the men were seen armed and wearing cagoules in a Renault Clio car at a petrol station on a secondary road in Villers-Cotterets some 70km from the French capital.

Amid French media reports the men had abandoned their car, Bruno Fortier, the mayor of neighbouring Crépy-en-Valois, said helicopters were circling his town and police and anti-terrorism forces were deploying en masse.

"It's an incessant waltz of police cars and trucks," he told Reuters, adding that he could not confirm reports the men were holed up in a house in the area.

 

EARLIER REPORT:  French special operations forces deployed on Thursday in a northern town where two brothers suspected of having gunned down 12 people in an Islamist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are believed to be located, a police source said. RAID, the anti-terrorist unit of the French police force, and the GIGN, a paramilitary special operations unit, were deployed in Villers-Cotterets in the northern Aisne region "where a car was abandoned after being used by the two suspects, who were identified by a witness," the source told AFP.

EARLIER UPDATE: Two brothers suspected of having gunned down 12 people in an Islamist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were spotted on Thursday morning and are armed, sources close to the manhunt said.
The manager of a petrol station near Villers-Cotteret in the northern Aisne region "recognised the two men suspected of having participated in the attack against Charlie Hebdo", the source said.

BREAKING NEWS:  A woman police officer died in a shootout in southern Paris on Thursday, a police source said, adding that it was unclear at this stage whether there was any link to the killings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine. A street sweeper was also shot and seriously wounded.

Television station iTELE said two police officers were lying on the ground after the attack.

The shooting of the officer comes a day after masked gunmen killed 12 people — including two police — in an assault on a satirical newspaper.

French police are carrying out manhunt for two brothers suspected of killing 12 people on Wednesday at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in a presumed militant strike.

On Thursday, authorities released photos of the two French nationals still at large, calling them "armed and dangerous."

Seven people have already been arrested in the ongoing investigation, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.   

France's top security official left an emergency government meeting to travel to the scene of Thursday's shooting, which comes amid high tensions.

Paris police and a French security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said it was too early to draw any connection between the shootings.

MEANWHILE: Seven people have been detained in the hunt for brothers suspected of gunning down 12 people in an Islamist assault on a satirical weekly, a judicial source said Thursday.

Confirming earlier comments by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the source, who refused to be named, said men and women close to the two brothers were currently being questioned by police, without saying where they had been detained.

Valls, meanwhile, told RTL radio that the two suspects -- who are still on the run -- were known to intelligence services and were "no doubt" being followed before Wednesday's attack.

The masked, black-clad gunmen burst into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday morning, killing some of France's most outspoken journalists and two policemen, before jumping into a car and escaping.

Police have issued arrest warrants for Cherif Kouachi, 32, a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for involvement in a network sending fighters to Iraq, and his 34-year-old brother Said. Both were born in Paris.

EARLIER: The youngest of three French nationals being sought by police for a suspected militant attack that killed 12 people at a satirical magazine on Wednesday turned himself into police, an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said.

The hooded attackers stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly magazine, in the most deadly militant attack on French soil in decades.
 
French police were still in a huge manhunt for two of the attackers who escaped by car after shooting dead some of France's top cartoonists as well as two police officers.
 
 
Police issued a document to forces across the region saying the men were being sought for murder in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
 
The document, reviewed by a Reuters correspondent, named them as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, both from Paris, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996.
 
The police source said one of them had been identified by his identity card, which had been left in the getaway car.
 
An official at the Paris prosecutor's office said the youngest of the three had turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, some 230 kilometres northeast of Paris near the Belgium border.
 
BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the man had decided to go to the police after seeing his name in social media. It said other arrests had taken place in circles linked to the two brothers.
 
The police source said Cherif Kouachi had previously been tried on terrorism charges and served 18 months in prison.
 
He was charged with criminal association related to a terrorist enterprise in 2005. He had been part of a terror cell that enlisted French nationals from eastern Paris to go to Iraq to fight Americans in Iraq. He was arrested before leaving for Iraq to join militants.
 
Police published pictures of the two brothers Thursday morning calling for witnesses and describing the two men as "armed and dangerous."
 
The police source said anti-terrorism police searching for the suspects and links to them had carried out searches in Reims, Strasbourg and Paris as part of the investigation.
 
A Reuters reporter in Reims saw anti-terrorism police secure a building before a forensics team entered an apartment there while dozens of residents looked on.
 
EXECUTIONS
 
During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building as shots rang out. Another walked over to a police officer lying wounded on the street and shot him point-blank with an assault rifle before the two calmly climbed into a black car and drove off.
 
A police union official said there were fears of further attacks, and described the scene in the offices as carnage, with a further four wounded fighting for their lives.
 
Tens of thousands joined impromptu rallies across France in memory of the victims and to support freedom of expression.
 
The government declared the highest state of alert, tightening security at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores as the search for the assailants got under way.
 
Some Parisians expressed fears about the effect of the attack on community relations in France.
 
"Today the French Republic as a whole was the target," President Francois Hollande said in a prime-time evening television address. He declared a national day of mourning on Thursday.
 
BARBARIC ACT
 
An amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men in black outside the building. One of them spots a wounded policeman lying on the ground, hurries over to him and shoots him dead at point-blank range with a rifle.
 
In another clip on television station iTELE, the men are heard shouting in French: "We have killed Charlie Hebdo."
 
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the assailants killed a man at the entrance of the building to force entry. They then headed to the second floor and opened fire on an editorial meeting attended by eight journalists, a policeman tasked with protecting the magazine's editorial director and a guest.
 
"What we saw was a massacre. Many of the victims had been executed, most of them with wounds to the head and chest," Patrick Hertgen, an emergencies services medic called out to treat the injured, told Reuters.
 
A Reuters reporter saw groups of armed policeman patrolling around department stores in the shopping district and there was an armed gendarme presence outside the Arc de Triomphe.
 
US President Barack Obama described the attack as cowardly and evil, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the shooting.
 
The dead included co-founder Jean "Cabu" Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier.
 
Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim faith (CFCM), condemned an "immensely barbaric act also against democracy and freedom of the press."
 
Rico, a friend of Cabut, who joined the Paris vigil, said his friend had paid for people misunderstanding his humour.
 
"These attacks are only going to get worse. It's like a tsunami, it won't stop and what's happening today will probably feed the National Front," he told Reuters without giving his family name.

 12 dead, 20 injured

Hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a weekly satirical magazine, killing at least 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades.

Two assailants were seen calmly leaving the scene.

A police union official said the assailants remained at liberty and there were fears of further attacks.

Firefighters, police officers and forensics gathered in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving twelve dead. Heavily armed gunmen shouting slogans stormed a Paris satirical newspaper office on January 7 and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. Police launched a massive manhunt for the masked attackers who reportedly hijacked a car and sped off, running over a pedestrian and shooting at officers.   AFP

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well  known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders.

"This is a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it," President Francois Hollande told reporters after rushing to the scene of the attack. His government raised France's security level to the highest notch and scheduled an emergency cabinet meeting.

A photo taken on January 7, 2015 shows a police car riddled with bullets during an attack on the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris which left eleven dead, including two police officers, according to sources close to the investigation. At least 11 people were killed when gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher opened fire in the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7.  AFP

A short amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to him to shoot him dead at point-blank range. The two then walk over to a black saloon car and drive off.

A police official said the gunmen fled towards the eastern Paris suburbs after holding up a car.

"There is a possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured," Police union official Rocco Contento said.

French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 7, 2015 in Paris as the capital was placed under the highest alert status after heavily armed gunmen shouting slogans stormed French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. Police launched a massive manhunt for the masked attackers who reportedly hijacked a car and sped off, running over a pedestrian and shooting at officers. AFP

Sirens could be heard across Paris as Prime Minister Manuel Valls said security would be ramped up at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores.

The White House said U.S. security officials were in contact with their French counterparts.

"If the perpetrators are still at large, we're going to track them down, and we're going to work with the French to do that," a White House spokesman  told MSNBC television.
 


A general view shows firefighters, police officers and forensics gathered in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving twelve dead. Heavily armed gunmen shouting slogans stormed a Paris satirical newspaper office on January 7 and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. Police launched a massive manhunt for the masked attackers who reportedly hijacked a car and sped off, running over a pedestrian and shooting at officers.   AFP

Another 20 people were injured in the attack, including four or five critically. Police union official Contento described the scene inside the offices as "carnage".

Ten members of the Charlie Hebdo staff died in the attack, prosecutors said. Sources at the weekly said the dead included co-founder Jean "Cabu" Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier

"About a half an hour ago two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs (rifles)," witness Benoit Bringer told TV station iTELE. "A few minutes later we heard lots of shots."

GUNMEN FLED

Dozens of police and emergency services were at the site as police secured a wide perimeter around the shooting site, where a Reuters reporter saw a car riddled with bullet holes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the shooting.

"This abominable act is not only an attack on the lives if French citizens and their security. It is also an attack on freedom of speech and the press, core elements of our free democratic culture," said Merkel.

 

UAE strongly condemns terror attack on French newspaper

The UAE on Wednesday strongly condemned the heinous terrorist attack at the office of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in which scores of unarmed innocent civilians were killed and injured.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, emphasised the UAE's solidarity with the friendly government and people of France at this critical time and expressed its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as a phenomenon that targets international security and stability.

The statement said that such appalling criminal acts require cooperation and solidarity at all levels to eradicate this menace which seeks to spread destruction, chaos and to destabilise security and stability.

The ministry said these criminal acts against innocent civilians violate all human principles and ethical values.

The ministry expressed its sincere condolences and sympathies with the French government and families of victims and wished a swift recovery to the injured.


GCC condemns Charlie Hebdo shooting


GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif Al Zayani deplored on Wednesday the deadly terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier in the day.

Describing the attack as 'cowardly and terrorist", Al Zayani, in a statement carried by KUNA, said the incident runs counter to the true values of and teachings of Islam.

He also expressed the GCC's support for any action the government of France may take to bring those criminals to justice and fight terrorism.

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