Charlie Hebdo Shooting Major Manhunt For Brothers Accused Of The Massacre
Armed French police hunting gunmen who massacred 12 people in Paris on Wednesday morning swarmed a number of apartment blocks across the country.
One of the suspects, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, is said to have handed himself into police after heavily-armed officers surrounded a property in the city of Charleville-Mézières in northern France.
The two other suspects, named by police as French-Algerian brothers Said, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32, were not arrested last night but police released photos of the pair as they issued arrest warrants for the suspected murderers.
Enterprise News and PicturesWanted: Cherif Kouachi has been named as one of the masked gunmen
In a separate raid in the city of Reims, police lined the streets of the run-down La Croix area before preparing to enter the building at around 11pm local time.
Although it was not clear if the three gunmen were inside, one of the unit was quoted as saying there would be a “showdown”.
Enterprise News and PicturesHunted: Said Kouachi and his brother are thought to have been behind the shocking crime
The raid came after the suspected al-Qaeda terrorists stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and executed numerous workers.
Reports said the attackers initially went to the wrong door in the street, then gunned down a maintenance man after he pointed them to the Charlie Hebdo office.
A major manhunt is under way near the Belgian border as French police close in on the gunmen who massacred 12 people in Paris.
The Kouachi brothers were originally from the Paris suburb of Pantin, where Cherif still lived, and where another anti-terrorist police raid took place.
After bursting into the weekly editorial meeting, the heavily armed fanatics called out names from a hit-list of journalists before gunning them down.
Two unarmed police officers were also killed in the outrage.
One was believed to be French Muslim Ahmed Merabet, who was shot at point-blank range as he held his hands up in surrender.
The country’s President Francois Hollande declared a national day of mourning after the terrorist attacks, the first on French soil in 50 years.
Meanwhile, there was a show of solidarity around the world with the phrase Je Suis Charlie – I Am Charlie – posted on social media sites.
And thousands gathered in Paris for a candle-lit vigil to show support for the victims.
The bloodbath began around 11:30am local time when the men, wearing balaclavas and brandishing AK-47s and RPGs, forced their way into the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine notorious for publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
They threatened a female worker and her child at gunpoint near the entrance, forcing her to enter the code to gain access.
It is understood they then made a caretaker lead them upstairs to the second floor of the building, located just north of the famous Bastille monument.
After entering the conference room, the gunmen called out specific names.
One of them shouted for the editor – Stephane Charbonnier – screaming: “Where is Charb? Where is Charb?”
He was then shot dead along with his police bodyguard.
Masked gunmen stormed the headquarters of the weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris
It is thought they then left the room and started spraying bullets around the rest of the office, firing at petrified journalists who were hiding underneath desks.
Those killed included the editor Mr Charbonnier, 47, cartoonists Georges Wolinski, 80, Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, 57, and Jean Cabut, 75, as well as 68-year-old writer Bernard Maris.
Five people were seriously injured in the gunfire and some remained in critical condition.
Witnesses said the extremists were heard crying, “The Prophet has been avenged” and, “Allahu akbar” – God is great – as they made their way through the floor.
One gunman reportedly told a witness: “You tell the media it was al-Qaeda in Yemen.”
The men were then seen running out of the building where one raised his right index finger in a gesture that has been adopted by radical Islamists, including al-Qaeda.
A shocking video emerged which captured the gunmen opening fire on a police officer as they escaped.
The chilling footage shows the terrified policeman slumped on the pavement, slowly raise his hands in surrender as the attackers creep towards him – providing support for each other like trained infantrymen.
Despite his pleas, the officer was executed at point-blank range.
A police car tried to block their escape but the gunmen opened fire, leaving its windscreen riddled with bullet holes.
As they drove away, the terrorists are believed to have knocked down several pedestrians in their hijacked black Citroen DS car.
Witnesses there described a scene of carnage, with bullet holes and smashed windows.
Gilles Boulanger, who works in the same building, said: “A neighbour called to warn me that there were armed men in the building and that we had to shut all the doors.
“Several minutes later shots were heard in the building from automatic weapons firing in all directions.
“So then we looked out of the window and saw they were shooting with the police. It was really upsetting. You’d think it was a war zone.”
The getaway vehicle was found abandoned a short time later in Rue de Meaux, about a mile north of the Charlie Hebdo offices in Rue Nicolas Appert.
Inside the car, French police found one of the gunmen’s ID which he had dropped. The attackers later hijacked a grey Renault Clio.
The authorities lost track of the gunmen shortly before midday and French security forces were deployed to hunt them down.
The French government raised the national security alert system to “alerte attentat”, the highest level.
A total of 3,000 police officers were mobilised as well as 300 armed troops.
They patrolled the Eiffel Tower, places of worship, stores, media offices and public transport, including Montparnasse railway station.
Experts say the professional way with which the gunmen handled their weapons show they have had military training.
They also had army-style boots, with one wearing a sand-coloured bullet-proof vest with spare magazines stuffed in the ammo pockets.
Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard, who was in London at the time of the attack, said: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”
The Foreign Office warned Britons in the French capital to “take extra care” in the light of the attack.