Twelve people were shot dead in a terror attack against a French magazine on Wednesday. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine that makes fun of everyone and everything, including Islam and Prophet Mohammed. Among the dead were its editor and several cartoonists and two policemen.
French police launched a massive, nation-wide manhunt for the killers, who at the time of writing remained free.
The attackers, wearing masks and carrying Kalashnikov rifles, burst into the editorial conference just before 11.30am on Wednesday.
Within a few violent moments, some of the most provocative voices in French journalism were silenced - including the magazine's chief editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and some of France's top cartoonists, including Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.
"It's as if Matt Groening of the Simpsons had been assassinated, somebody everybody knows, who makes quips at society," said Laurence Grove, author of Comics in French: The European Bande Dessinee in Context. "Okay, they are a little bit more rude and daring than Matt Groening would be, but it's at that level of everyday knowledge in France. Everybody knows Charlie Hebdo. Everybody laughs at it, or is disgusted by it, or disapproves, but everybody knows it."
A police source said the two men opened fire and killed people in the conference room, as well as the police officer in charge of protecting cartoonist Charb, who did not have time to react.
Only one person survived, by hiding under the table. The witness heard the pair cry "we have avenged the Prophet" and "Allahu akbar" (God is great).At 11.30 am, police received reports of gunshots at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and immediately sent officers to the scene. The gunmen fled, again crying "Allahu akbar", and came face-to-face with police, followed by a firefight.
They climbed into a car and then had a gunfight with the officers who were inside a police vehicle.
According to amateur video footage, the killers acted very calmly - walking with guns held before them and checking the streets for targets. One of them coldly shot an injured policeman who was sprawled on the pavement as he held his hand up in an apparent attempt to shield himself.
"You were going to kill me!" the gunman said before pulling the trigger.
The two killers then cast another look around and slowly went towards their waiting getaway car, where the figure on the passenger side paused to scoop up what appeared to be a gun that had fallen to the ground before jumping in.
The killers drove off calmly, the same way they had carried out their attack. Shortly afterwards, the gunmen had a violent crash with a Volkswagen, injuring the driver. They they fled in another car.
The youngest of the three suspects, Mourad Hamyd, 18, surrendered at a police station yesterday. French police have issued arrest warrants for brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, and said they should be considered armed and dangerous.
The killings sparked international outrage and global condemnation at what is seen as an attack on freedom of the press and free speech. Hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in France and other cities to show their sympathy and respect for the dead. The hashtag #jesuischarlie (French for "I am Charlie") quickly went viral.
Op-Ed piece on how the attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on free speech itself.
Op-Ed piece on how the world is responding to the Paris killings.