An attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday left at least a dozen people dead and sparked widespread global condemnations.
The deaths include four of the weekly magazine’s most famous cartoonists and two policemen.
A video by Premières Lignes news agency, shot from a rooftop of a nearby building shows the assailants carrying out the attack crying “Allahu Akbar” at one point.
In a recent cartoon, the magazine criticised the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), in which it depicted a masked man executing the Prophet Muhammad and calling him an infidel. The picture is designed to look like the execution videos released by ISIS over the summer.
Charlie Hebdo’s editorial line is known for its widespread criticism on a range of issues, taking aim at many religions, and is not restricted to Islam. The magazine has been attacked once in 2011, also after poking fun at the Prophet Muhammad.
The French Ministry of Interior announced that it is raising alert to the highest levels in the Ile de France region, which includes Paris.
French journalist at Le Monde Alexis Duval told Daily News Egypt “it is our freedom of speech which has been targeted”. He added that it is “unacceptable and deeply revolting to see that Charlie Hebdo, a national satirical weekly newspaper, the victim of that bloody assault”.
Duval added: “It makes me think that now, in France, we have to struggle more than ever to be journalists and defend our fundamentally republican values and rights.”
The attack was carried out by at least two masked men dressed in black, according to a video shot from a closer range. They fled the scene in a black car immediately after, and are still at large. Attackers reportedly used “Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher”, according to sources close to the investigation cited by France 24.
Freedom of expression advocates have condemned the attack, with Amnesty International describing the attack as a “chilling assault on freedom of expression”.
Amnesty International France Director Stephan Oberreit said: “This is a dark day for freedom of expression and a vibrant press culture. But above all, it is an appalling human tragedy.”
Oberreit added: “Journalists under threat must be protected and allowed to carry out their work without fear of deadly violence.”
Additionally, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said in a statement, “this is a brazen assault on free expression in the heart of Europe”.
Mahoney said: “Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand.”
French President François Hollande said on Twitter “no barbaric act will extinguish the freedom of the press”. He added that France is a united country that will react and be able to block these actions.
US President Barack Obama said in a White House statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time.” He added that France and its capital Paris “offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers”.
Obama directed his administration to provide France with any assistance needed to bring the “terrorists to justice”.
From inside Egypt, Al-Azhar announced its condemnation of the attack.