Mourning and manhunt follows Charlie Hebdo massacre

French security forces launch manhunt for jihadist Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said for allegedly executing Wednesday’s massacre 

Paris: French security forces are desperately hunting for two brothers suspected of gunning down 12 people in a terrorist attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, as a stunned and outraged France mourned the victims.

Human Rights square
Hundreds gather at the Human Rights square in Saint-Denis de la Reunion yesterday to pay tribute to the 12 people who lost their lives in the deadly attack. Pic/AFP

The massacre at the magazine’s office on Wednesday triggered poignant and spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity around the world and more than 1,00,000 poured onto the streets of France.

A passer-by prays in front of candles and flowers placed near the Charlie Hebdo office in memory of the deceased
A passer-by prays in front of candles and flowers placed near the Charlie Hebdo office in memory of the deceased. Pic/AFP

Shocked, people from Moscow to Washington rallied in tens of thousands under the banner ‘I am Charlie’, in support of press freedom and the controversial magazine that has repeatedly lampooned the Prophet Mohammed.

As fear spread after the country’s bloodiest attack in half a century, several other incidents rocked the jittery nation, although it was not clear whether they were linked to yesterday’s attack. Declaring Thursday a national day of mourning — only the fifth in the last 50 years — French President Francois Hollande called the bloodbath ‘an act of exceptional barbarity’ and ‘undoubtedly a terrorist attack’.

Police issued arrest warrants for 32-year-old Cherif Kouachi, a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for involvement in a network sending fighters to Iraq, and his 34-year-old brother Said. Both were born in Paris. The brothers, on the run, were likely to be ‘armed and dangerous’, authorities warned.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said seven people had been detained in the hunt for the brothers, and a judicial source added that the detainees — men and women — were close to the suspects.

Suspect surrenders

Paris: One of the three suspects of the massacre surrendered to the police in the town of Charleville-Mezieres, near Belgium border, authorities said yesterday. Hamyd Mourad (18) gave himself in after he was accused of collaborating with brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi. He surrendered shortly before midnight on Wednesday after seeing his name circulating on social network websites.

jihadist Cherif Kouachi

Brothers spotted in north France
Paris: A source claimed jihadist Cherif Kouachi (above left) and his brother Said were spotted yesterday morning and were armed. The manager of a petrol station near Villers-Cotteret in the northern Aisne region ‘recognised the two men suspected of having participated in the attack against Charlie Hebdo’, the source added.

Policewoman shot by gunman near Paris dies
Paris: A policewoman who was shot by a gunman wearing a bullet-proof vest just outside Paris died and the second victim was critical, the police said yesterday. The shooter escaped after the attack, which came just a day after the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo office. The cops are yet to establish a link between the two incidents.

Villefrance sur Saone

Explosion in restaurant near mosque
Paris: An explosion took place yesterday morning in a restaurant next to a mosque in the French
city of Villefrance-sur-Saone in Rhone region, a day after Charlie Hebdo massacre. Fortunately,
no casualties were reported.
The explosion shattered windows of the restaurant at 6 am, reported local newspapers, adding that
a gas leak would probably not be the cause of the blast.

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