Huge manhunt underway for Paris terrorist gunmen
THE gunmen who massacred 12 journalists and police officers at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are still on the run tonight as thousands of people join vigils around the world.
Security forces are searching for the attackers, who fled in a Citroen hatchback that is being examined by forensics teams after being dumped.
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The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said three men were being hunted and said "all the means" had been mobilised to "neutralise the three criminals who have committed this barbaric act".
He added that the operation will take place as quickly as possible in order to "identify the aggressors and arrest them in a way that they will be punished with the severity that corresponds to the barbaric act they have committed".
The masked attackers, armed with automatic rifles, were heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" - God is great - as they stormed the office before opening fire in an editorial meeting.
Footage showed them shouting in French "we have killed Charlie Hebdo -we have avenged the Prophet Mohamed," in an apparent reference to the magazine's publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.
Witnesses said the gunmen claimed to be part of terrorist group al-Qaeda in Yemen and asked for cartoonists by name before murdering them.
The gunmen fled eastwards towards the Paris suburbs, dumping their car in a residential area, police said. They then hijacked another car before running over a pedestrian and disappearing.
"There is a possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured," police union official Rocco Contento said.
Eight journalists, a guest and two police officers were killed, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molin. Eleven more were injured, including four who are in a critical condition.
Charb, the editor of Charlie Hebdo (Reuters) Charb, the editor of Charlie Hebdo (Reuters)
Footage taken by terrified witnesses from windows and on rooftops overlooking the scene showed the terrorists shooting one of their victims, a police uniform at point-blank range as he lay injured on the pavement.
Corinne "Coco" Rey, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, told French newspaper L'Humanite: "I had gone to collect my daughter from day care and as I arrived in front of the door of the paper's building two hooded and armed men threatened us. They wanted to go inside, to go upstairs. I entered the code.
"They fired on Wolinski, Cabu...it lasted five minutes... sheltered under a desk...They spoke perfect French...claimed to be from al-Qaeda."
Prominent cartoonists Jean Cabut, the magazine's artistic director, Stephane Charbonnier, its editor, and Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac were among the dead.
The massacre was France's deadliest terror attack in at least two decades and prompted condemnation from world leaders including David Cameron and Barack Obama, alongside journalists and free speech campaigners.
French president Francois Hollande, who rushed to the scene of the attack, said it had left France in a state of shock. He added: "We need to show that we are a united country. We have to be firm, we have to be strong."
The Prime Minister, who described the killings as "sickening", met Angela Merkel over the tragedy and said the leaders had contacted President Hollande to offer their support.
Ms Merkel, who is in London on an official visit, condemned the shooting as "barbarous", while President Obama condemned the "horrific" attack.
It has prompted a wave of global solidarity with Charlie Hebdo over what is being seen as a direct attack on freedom of expression.
The hashtag #jesuisCharlie is trending on Twitter and people are wearing stickers bearing the slogan at vigils in Paris and around the world.