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Islamic Terrorists Mass Murder Paris Magazine Staffers

January 7th 2015

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French police say at least 12 people are dead after an attack at the Paris headquarters of the satirical weekly paper Charlie Hebdo.

Media reports say at least two gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles and a rocket launcher inside the building housing the newspaper's offices.  The suspects are believed to have fled in two vehicles. Local media reports say the newspaper staff was holding an editorial meeting when the shooting occurred.

​​Calling it a terrorist attack, French President Francois Hollande defended the media. "No act of barbarity will ever extinguish freedom of the press," he said.

France has raised its terrorism alert to the highest level following the shooting.

Known for its irreverent tone, the left-wing magazine frequently comments on religion and culture.

It published a satirical cartoon Wednesday on social media depicting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a new year well-wisher.  

Thousands of people took to Facebook and Twitter in support of the publication and the cartoon, saying freedom of expression must be defended.

The newspaper's office was fire bombed in 2011 after it published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed on its cover.

The White House has condemned the attack.

Two cops were among 12 people killed Wednesday when gunmen stormed a French satirical news magazine which has published cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

France raised its terror threat level following the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in central Paris and stepped up security for media organizations, large stores and places of worship. The gunmen remained at-large hours after the attack.

"We will find the people who did this," French President Francois Hollande said. "France is today shocked by this terrorist attack."

Benoit Bringer, a journalist with Agence Premiere Ligne who saw the attack, told the iTele network he saw several masked men armed with machine guns. Television footage from the scene showed a police car with at last 10 bullet holes in the windshield.

Prosecutors confirmed that 12 people had been killed.

Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, told The Associated Press that the attackers escaped in two vehicles. NBC News could not independently confirm that account.

"It was a pretty horrible sight," said Anders Lund, a 28-year-old musician who heard the gunshots from his apartment just 200 yards away. "I heard a few bangs, loud ones," he told NBC News. "I did not know they were gunshots until I heard all the sirens."

"I went down there, and there were officers and people from ambulances in the street. It was pretty chaotic. People in cafes and brasseries were standing outside trying to work out what had happened. From afar I could see people on stretchers being carried out. It did not look good." The White House condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," according to Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

"Our thoughts are with our allies in France," he told MSNBC. "We know they won't be cowed by this act.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said "the murders in Paris are sickening," adding on Twitter that the U.K. stands with France in its fight against terrorism. Charlie Hebdo is a publication that has always courted controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders.

Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of Muhammad in 2012, forcing France to temporarily close its embassies and schools in more than 20 countries amid fears of reprisals. Its offices were also firebombed in November 2011 after publishing a caricature of Muhammad on its cover.

It's most recent tweet was a cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

The Baghdadi cartoon translates to: "Best wishes, by the way."

"No barbaric act will ever extinguish the freedom of the press," Hollande added in a tweet. "We are a united country."

Wednesday's shooting is one of the worst terror attacks on French soil. In March 2012, seven people were killed in three gun attacks targeting French soldiers and Jewish civilians in Montauban and Toulouse, while a string of bombings in 1995 killed eight and injured more than 100.

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