Charlie Hebdo attackers shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, reports, France on anti-terror alert
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has activated the government’s anti-terror cell after Wednesday’s attack on the offices of satirical paper Charlie Hebdo. The attackers are reported to have shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great) as they opened fire, killing 12 people.
In video filmed by a man from a nearby rooftop the two armed men can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar!” before fleeing in a stolen car.
Other witnesses reported that they shouted “The prophet is avenged” in apparent reference to cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed published by the paper on several occasions, police sources said.
Ministers concerned with security and top police officers met at 2.00pm Wednesday after Valls raised the terror alert in the Paris region to its highest possible level.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was put in charge of coordinating operations to maintain security and track down the killers, who were reported to have ditched their vehicle and stolen a new one in north-east Paris.
Media organisations, large shops, religious buildings and public transport have been placed under “reinforced protection” and a nationwide manhunt has been launched, the prime minister’s office announced.
The French Socialist Party has called for a “March of Republicans” to condemn the killings and has contacted other left-wing parties and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to help organise it “as soon as possible”.
Journalists' unions and left-wing groups called for a minute's silence and a rally at Paris's Place de la République at 6.00pm on Wednesday.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen condemned a “terrorist attack carried out by Islamist fundamentalists”.
The main Muslim umbrella group, the CFCM, described it as a “barbaric” attack on democracy and press freedom.
It called on “all those who hold the values of the republic dear to avoid provocations that will only serve to fuel the fire” and on the “Muslim community to show the greatest vigilance against possible exploitation by extremist groups of all kinds”.
Another Islamic grouping, the UOIF, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned “this criminal attack and horrible murders in the strongest possible manner”.
France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia called for “national unity to defend all our freedoms, including freedom of expression”.
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