A French satirical magazine’s office turned into a horror show Wednesday when attackers burst in and began firing, killing at least 12 before heading off onto the streets of Paris. In addition to the 12 dead, eight people were wounded, including four in critical condition.
While it wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the attack, French officials viewed it as a clear act of terrorism. And there were real fears things could get even worse, with the assailants still on the loose.
“We need to find the actors of this terrorist act,” French President Francois Hollande said. “They must be arrested and brought before judges and condemned as quickly as possible. France is shocked today.”
Heavily armed men entered the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris’ 11th district, close to Place de la Bastille, and opened fire, SPG police union spokesman Luc Poignant told CNN affiliate BFMTV.
A witness who works in the office opposite the magazine’s told BFMTV that he saw two hooded men, dressed in black, enter the building with Kalashnikov submachine guns.
“We then heard them open fire inside, with many shots,” he told the channel. “We were all evacuated to the roof. After several minutes, the men fled, after having continued firing in the middle of the street.”
Witnesses also spoke of seeing a rocket launcher, according to French media reports.
A video taken by a journalist for the Premieres Lignes agency shows the gunmen shouting “God is great!” as they began the attack, Le Monde reported. They also cried “We have avenged the Prophet!”
Four of the newspaper’s best-known cartoonists were killed in the attack, according to a law enforcement source quoted in Le Monde newspaper: Charb, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous. Charb was also the director of Charlie Hebdo.
Two police officers were also among the dead, the law enforcement source said, according to Le Monde.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.