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1 in custody in deadly attack at Paris paper

Updated: 2015-01-08 13:48
By Agencies (China Daily USA)

The youngest of three suspected Islamist gunmen in Wednesday's shooting attack at a Paris newspaper in which 12 people were murdered has surrendered, an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Hamyd Mourad, 18, surrendered in northeastern France.

Police are hunting two other French nationals, brothers Said Kouachi, born in 1980, and Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982.

The official said the suspect turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mzires.

BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the man had decided to go to the police after seeing his name in social media. It said other arrests had taken place in circles linked to the two brothers.

Police hunted for the suspects with possible links to al-Qaida in the military-style, methodical killings at the office of a satirical newspaper that caricatured Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Shouting "Allahu akbar!" as they fired, the men called out the names of specific employees.

Artist Corinne Rey told the French newspaper L'Humanite that she punched in the security code to the Charlie Hebdo offices after she and her young daughter were "brutally threatened" by the gunmen.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed, said prosecutor Francois Molins. He said 11 people were wounded, four of them seriously.

After fleeing, the attackers collided with another vehicle, then carjacked another car before disappearing in broad daylight, Molins said.

Among the dead was the paper's editor Stephane Charbonnier.

The staff was in an editorial meeting, and the gunmen headed straight for Charbonnier - widely known by his pen name Charb - killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman.

Rey said the assault "lasted five minutes. I hid under a desk."

Two gunmen strolled out to a black car waiting below, one of them calmly shooting a wounded police officer in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.

The witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he feared for his safety, said the attackers were so methodical he first thought they were members of France's elite anti-terrorism forces. Then they fired on the officer.

"They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot," he said. "While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace."

"Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo," one of the men shouted in French, according to video shot from a nearby building.

President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene of France's deadliest such attack in more than 50 years, called the assault on the weekly newspaper "an act of exceptional barbarism."

France raised its terror alert system to the maximum and bolstered security with more than 800 extra soldiers to guard media offices, places of worship, transport and other sensitive areas. Fears had been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis returning from conflicts in Syria and Iraq would stage attacks at home.

Heavily armed police moved into the city of Reims, in France's Champagne country east of Paris, apparently searching for the suspects. Video from BFM-TV showed police dressed in white apparently taking samples inside an apartment. It was not immediately clear who lived there.

One of the police officials said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network, and Cedric Le Bechec, a witness who encountered the escaping gunmen, quoted the attackers as saying: "You can tell the media that it's al-Qaida in Yemen."

Cherif Kouachi was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency. He said he was outraged at the torture of Iraqi inmates at the US prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad.

The masked, black-clad men with assault rifles stormed the offices near Paris' Bastille monument in the noontime attack on the publication, which had long drawn condemnation and threats - it was firebombed in 2011 in retaliation for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirized other religions and political figures.

The other dead were identified as cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous, and Jean Cabut, known as "Cabu." Also killed was Bernard Maris, an economist who was a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio.

Le Bechec, the witness who encountered the gunmen in another part of Paris, described on his Facebook page seeing two men "get out of a bullet-ridden car with a rocket-launcher in hand, eject an old guy from his car and calmly say hi to the public, saying `you can tell the media that it's al-Qaida in Yemen.' "

1 in custody in deadly attack at Paris paper

Amandine Marbach from Strasbourg, France, takes part in a vigil in New York to pay tribute to the victims in a mass shooting by three suspected Islamists at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Twelve people were killed. Reuters / Carlo Allegri

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