With reporting by Josh Wigler
On Wednesday morning (Jan. 7), gunmen attacked the offices of Paris-based newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing at least 12 and injuring more.
CNN reports that journalists and policemen were among the victims in the attack, which saw what is believed to be three gunmen opening fire on the Charlie Hebdo office using automatic AK-47 rifles. The status of the gunmen is currently unknown, but a widely circulated video (since taken down) shows an image of a masked gunman pointing a rifle at the head of a victim laying on the sidewalk.
The cable channel has also run cell phone videos of several black-clad gunmen firing weapons in the street and getting into a black car before fleeing.
French president François Hollande described the incident as "a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about this." Following the shootings, the French government has raised the country's security alert to the highest level. British Prime Minister David Cameron joined Hollande in condemning the attacks on the satirical magazine, writing on Twitter:
Charlie Hebdo, which often courts controversy by running satirical cartoons about politicians and religious leaders, has been the victim of attacks in the past. In November 2011, the paper's headquarters were firebombed with only hours to go before the release of an issue featuring the Prophet Muhammad. There were no injuries in that incident.
Though the Koran does not specifically prohibit the depicting of the prophet, satirical cartoons showing Muhammad as a terrorist or in otherwise unflattering ways have drawn sharp criticism and sometimes violent retaliation in recent years from religious circles.
Earlier on Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo tweeted out a cartoon depicting an ISIS leader saying "Best wishes, by the way":
At press time, more details were emerging about the attack:
>> Among the dead are the editor in chief of the magazine, as well as four of France's most well-known editorial cartoonists and two police officers.
>> Police have impounded a black Citroen the attackers appeared to have stolen during their getaway; it was abandoned in a neighborhood on the northern edge of Paris.
>> In amateur videos, the gunmen appear to be speaking in a fluent, accented French, at one point shouting "God is Great" in Arabic as they fired shots in the street. They also reportedly said, "We have avenged the Prophet!"
>> Experts tell CNN that the attack seemed well-coordinated and the gunmen appeared proficient with their weapons and seem to have had a specific plan.
>> President Obama condemned the incident, offering "any assistance" possible to find the killers. "France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers," he said.
>> The three gunmen are believed to still be on the loose in Paris after allegedly changing clothes to blend into the morning crowds.
>> A large solidarity demonstration is planned for Wednesday night in Paris.
>> Officials have reportedly identified three suspects in the attacks: Frenchmen Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, who are brothers in their early 30s, as well as 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad.