French Magazine bombing suspects named

By Drum Digital
08 January 2015

French police officials say they have identified three men as suspects in a deadly attack against newspaper offices that killed 12 people and shook the nation.

Two officials named the suspects as Frenchmen Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, in their early 30s, as well as 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, whose nationality wasn't immediately clear.

One of the officials said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive and ongoing investigation. Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency and sentenced to 18 months in prison.  

No arrests have been confirmed in the hunt for the attackers. It was the deadliest attack in France in half a century.

Masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, methodically killing 12 people Wednesday, including the editor, before escaping in a car. It was France's deadliest terrorist attack in half a century.

Shouting "Allahu akbar!" as they fired, the men claimed links to al-Qaida in their military-style, noon-time attack on the weekly paper Charlie Hebdo, located near Paris' Bastille monument. The publication's depictions of Islam and Islamic extremists have drawn condemnation and threats before - it was firebombed in 2011 - although it also satirized other religions and political figures.

Police identified three men, including two brothers, as suspects in the attack at the offices of weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, as security officers fanned out around the Paris region in a manhunt.

One police official said the men had links to a Yemeni terrorist network. Witnesses of the attackers' escape through Paris said one claimed allegiance to al-Qaida in Yemen.

Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have repeatedly threatened to attack France, which is conducting airstrikes against extremists in Iraq and fighting Islamic militants in Africa.

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President Francois Hollande said it was a terrorist act "of exceptional barbarism," adding that other attacks have been thwarted in France in recent weeks. Fears have been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis returning from conflicts in Syria and Iraq will stage attacks at home.

In a somber address to the nation Wednesday night, Hollande pledged to hunt down the killers, and pleaded with his compatriots to come together in a time of insecurity and suspicion.

"Let us unite, and we will win," he said. "Vive la France!"

France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, waving pens and papers reading "Je suis Charlie" - "I am Charlie." Similar rallies were held in London's Trafalgar Square as well as Madrid, Berlin and Brussels.

-SAPA

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