An amateur video recorded today’s terrorist assault on the headquarters of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ a leftist satirical newspaper that had been condemned in the past for caricatures of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. In the video, one of the two assailants can be heard crying ‘Allahu akbar’ (Allah is great). According to Spain’s ABC daily, one of the terrorists cried “We are avenging the Prophet!”
There have so far been 12 deaths attributed to the incident, including two police officers who responded to the shooting. The assailants were armed, according to reports, with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket propelled grenade launcher. The attacked occurred in the 11th arrondisement of Paris. Survivors climbed up on the roofs of nearby buildings to escape the terrorists, who wore facemasks and black clothing. A video shows one of the terrorist shooting a uniformed police officer. After felling the officer, the terrorist is seen shooting him in the head at point blank range.
Among the dead are editor and famed cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, as well his colleagues known by the monikers, ‘Cabu’ and ‘Wolinski.’
French police have the entire metropolitan area of Paris on maximum alert to find the two terrorists, who escaped the scene in a commandeered automobile. According to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, police and security forces are looking for three individuals but did not explain what role this third personage may have played in the deadly attack. Law enforcement has now found the escape vehicle abandoned on the north end of the city. France’s national police forces have put into place its ‘Vigipirate’ alert system in response to the attack. Vigipirate comes under the control of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
French President François Hollande left the Elysee Palace to visit the scene of the carnage. There he said he had no doubt that he had “no doubt” that this was a “terrorist” incident. “At this time, we must stick together and show that we are a united country,” said the socialist politician. Hollande also said that “we already knew that we are threatened, like other countries in the world,” while he affirmed that several terrorist operations against France had recently been uncovered. He suggested that the attacks came because France is a “country of freedom”, while saying that “no one may think that he can take action in France against the values of the Republic.”
The status of alert in France puts together all of the various national security and law enforcement elements of government together. The armed forces are called upon to provide additional security and patrols at key public places such as airports and tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. Additional security will be provided to schools, for example, while additional controls on transportation and travel will be put into place. Crisis response centers will be activated at the level of national ministers, as well as prefectures and the transportation sector.
Ever since 2012, after publishing a satirical cartoon of Mohammed, ‘Charlie Hebdo’ has been in the sights of Muslim believers and terrorists for supposedly offending Islam, which prohibits depictions of the so-called Prophet by its adherents.
President Barack Obama, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Germany’s President Angela Merkel, EU President Donald Tusk, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have all issued condolences and assurances of assistance.
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