(RNS) At least 12 were killed and 10 wounded in Paris on Wednesday (Jan. 7) in an apparent terror attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Armed gunmen wearing black hoods stormed the offices of the publication in a suburb of the city before firing automatic weapons in a scene police described as “carnage,” local media reported. The attackers were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” an Arabic phrase that means “God is great.”
Charlie Hebdo is known for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other controversial sketches and has frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims.
French Europe 1 radio said one of the attackers was heard shouting that the “prophet was avenged.”
President Francois Hollande, appearing at the scene immediately following the incident, said the shooting was “undoubtedly a terrorist attack” and said several other terror attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks.
Xavier Castaing, head of communications for the Paris police prefecture, confirmed the deaths. The attack may be the deadliest on French soil since a wave of train bombings in 1995.
Eyewitness images taken at the time of the attack show two men apparently abandoning a car. Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, said the attackers left in a waiting car and later switched to another vehicle. A massive manhunt is now underway across the French capital to find the perpetrators, who may still be heavily armed.
Hollande said France’s terror alert level is being raised to its highest level and promised the assailants — thought to be armed with Kalashnikovs and possibly a rocket-launcher — would be brought to justice. Security in Paris was immediately stepped up in public places, retail spots, transportation hubs and offices.
At least one police officer was shot and five people were in critical condition, Hollande said.
Just a few hours before Wednesday’s attack took place, Charlie Hebdo published a new cartoon on Twitter that appears to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, there is no evidence yet suggesting the attackers were motivated by the militant group that has captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
It’s not the first time the magazine has been targeted. Three years ago, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were the subject of an arson attack in response to its publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.
Contributing: The Associated Press