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Masked gunmen attacked the Paris headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this morning, killing at least 12 people — 10 employees and two police officers — and wounding eight others. The three attackers remain at large after fleeing the scene and hijacking a car.
Paris has been placed on highest alert following what Francoise Hollande described as “a terrorist attack.”
While the specific motive for the shooting is unclear, Charlie Hebdo has a history of satirizing Islam, and Charbonnier was included on a “most wanted” list published in the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. The last tweet sent out on the Charlie Hebdo account before the shooting was an image of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and this week’s magazine included an article about Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Submission, which depicts a future France under Islamic rule. The Guardian notes that there had been an uptick in threats against the magazine in recent weeks, and security at the Charlie Hebdo offices had been increased.
The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011 when it published an issue “guest-edited” by the Prophet Muhammad. The following week, the magazine responded with a cover image of Muhammad kissing a male Hebdo journalist. In 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Muhammad, and in 2013 released a serious cartoon biography of the prophet. News reports at the time noted that Charbonnier had received death threats and was living under police protection.