Four of the most well-known cartoonists in France are said to have been killed in the mass shooting attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in central Paris, according to France's leading news agency AFP.
At least 12 people are dead after shots were fired at the headquarters of the magazine, with multiple attackers escaping. Two police officers are believed to be among the dead, with 10 journalists killed.
One of the dead is said to be editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, was the magazine's top cartoonist and was placed on the "Al Qaeda kill list", published last year in its magazine Inspire. One of the dead policemen is believed to have been Charb's assigned protection officer.
The four cartoonists, Charb, Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, killed in the attacks
One witness told Sky News' reporter on the scene that gunmen had been asking for specific journalists by name. The attack is believed to have been timed to correspond with the magazine's morning news conference, when most journalists would have been in the building.
Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
Three other cartoonists from the magazine are also dead. One of them is Jean Cabut, known as Cabu who drew the cover of the Charlie Hebdo magazine that riffed on the Danish Mohammed cartoons, as well as Verlhac Bernard, better known by the pseudonym Tignous, and Georges Wolinski, whose work had also appeared in Libération and Paris Match.
Another cartoonist, Corinne Rey, aka Coco, said she was forced to let the gunmen in as she arrived at the building with her young daughter.
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At least 11 more people are injured, four critically, French prosecutor Francois Molins said
"I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war," Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief Gerard Biard has told France Inter.
The below video is a compilation by Le Huffington Post of amateur footage of the attack:
Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, said the attackers escaped in vehicles heading for the Parisian suburbs, and the Paris mayor's office said the gunmen are still at large.
Police later confirmed they were searching for three gunmen. An abandoned vehicle was later found by police, with another car hijacked by the gunmen.
There are growing fears that the men who executed the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices are professionally trained killers - with reporters noting their calm demeanor and their use of "double tap" firing that conserves ammunition.
A video circulated online, which Huffington Post has chosen not to publish, saw the men shooting a man "execution-style" as he lay on the ground. The men are heard to shout "Allahu Akbar".
Despite the officer raising his hand in apparent surrender, he is shot at point blank range
Le Figaro reported that the gunmen used automatic weapons, believed to be AK-47s and were dressed in black, quoting a police source. There were also multiple, but unconfirmed reports of a rocket launcher seen on the scene.
The offices of the magazine were fire-bombed in 2011 after it published a call-out for the Prophet Mohammed to guest-edit the magazine.
The publication, which lampoons all of the world's religions, was under fire in 2007 for re-printing the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad that sparked worldwide protests.
The last tweet from the magazine's Twitter account was a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wishing him "best wishes, by the way."
Meilleurs vœux, au fait. pic.twitter.com/a2JOhqJZJM
— Charlie Hebdo (@Charlie_Hebdo_) January 7, 2015
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