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They shouted out names… then fired: Minute by minute, how the horror unfolded in Paris magazine newsroom as terrorists slaughtered 12 innocent victims

From Daily Mail

  • Two heavily armed gunmen dressed in black force cartoonist Corrine Ray to let them into the Charlie Hebdo offices
  • They burst into magazine’s editorial office and shoot dead the editor, his police guard and three other cartoonists
  • Four more journalists are killed in magazine office and they shoot two more people at random on their way out 
  • Witnesses said the pair cried ‘we have avenged the prophet’ and ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest) as they left

By Claire Duffin and Emine Sinmaz and Emily Kent Smith In Paris For The Daily Mail
Published: 18:33 EST, 7 January 2015 | Updated: 20:39 EST, 7 January 2015

Dressed from head to toe in black, two heavily armed gunmen emerge from their small black Citroen at 11.20am on a chilly and dry Paris day.

One carries a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and both are armed with Kalashnikovs.

A third man is in the car. Having abandoned the vehicle in the middle of the tree-lined street, the pair make their way towards the door of No 6, Rue Nicolas-Appert.


How the attack unfolded: This graphic shows the route taken by the gunmen who stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo at about 11.25am

‘Is this Charlie Hebdo?’ they scream at two unassuming maintenance workers. The men tell them the office of the satirical magazine is two doors down and the gunmen move on, but not before shooting dead one of the workers – the first of their 12 victims.

According to tweets from Yves Cresson, who works for the media production company Bayoo next door, the two attackers initially walked into his office. ‘Taking advantage of the postwoman, two armed men wearing balaclavas entered our offices,’ he tweeted. ‘They were looking for Charlie.’

11.25am: Terror of the young mother and her daughter

Florence Pouvil, a sales assistant who worked opposite the Charlie Hebdo offices, said: ‘I saw two people with big guns, like Kalashnikovs, outside our office and then we heard firing. We were very confused. There were two guys who came out of the building and shot everywhere. We hid on the floor, we were terrified.

‘They came from the building opposite with big guns. We feared for our lives so we hid under our desks so they wouldn’t see us. Both men were dressed in black from head to toe and their faces were covered so I didn’t see them.

‘They were wearing military clothes, it wasn’t common clothing, like they were soldiers.’

Threatened: Corinne Rey was forced to give gunmen the magazine’s entry code

An estate agent said that before entering the building, the attackers approached another man in the street, saying, ‘Tell the media that this is Al Qaeda in Yemen.’

Arriving at No 10 – the offices of Charlie Hebdo – the two men approach Corinne Rey, a cartoonist who is arriving at work with her young daughter, having just picked her up from kindergarten.

The gunmen force the terrified woman, also known to her friends as ‘Coco’, to punch in the four-digit security code allowing them access to the magazine’s office. Miss Rey was frogmarched upstairs with her daughter. The pair hid underneath a desk during the subsequent chaos.

Miss Rey said: ‘They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code.

‘They shot on Wolinski, Cabu… it lasted five minutes. I took shelter under a desk. They spoke perfect French. They said they were from Al Qaeda.’

11.35am: It’s like a butcher’s – there are so many dead

Inside the magazine’s modern building, on the second floor, reporters and editors are holding their morning news conference.

One witness, who was in an office across the corridor, said she heard ‘a huge boom’. ‘Then someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away,’ she said. Inside the office, the men call out the names of their targets before shooting them dead.

Among those killed were Stephane Charbonnier, 47, the magazine’s editor; his police bodyguard; renowned cartoonists Georges Wolinski, 80, Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac, 57, and Jean Cabut, along with 68-year-old writer Bernard Maris.

Laurent Léger, a Charlie Hebdo writer, managed to sound the alarm and make a phone call at 11.40am. He told a friend: ‘Call the police. It’s carnage, a bloodbath. Everyone is dead.’ Then the line went dead.

A police source said the two ‘calm and determined gunmen’ went directly up to the editorial room and knew their target. ‘It was Charb they were targeting. The two attackers looked for him in the room, shouting, “Where is Charb? Where is Charb?” They killed him then sprayed everyone else.’ Amid the carnage, one journalist texted a friend to say: ‘I’m alive. There is death all around me. The jihadists spared me.’

Others took refuge on the roof, including Benoit Bringer, a journalist whose office is next door. ‘There were very many people in the building,’ he said. ‘We evacuated via the roof just next to the office.’

Witnesses said the pair cried ‘we have avenged the prophet’ and ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest) as they left.

Another said: ‘It’s like a butcher’s inside there now. There are so many dead.’

11.50am: Police arrive on bicycles – then a firefight

The gunmen return to the street – apparently as calmly as they had arrived. From his position on the roof, Mr Bringer said he saw them emerge from the office.

‘Three policemen arrived by pushbike,’ he said, ‘but they left naturally as the attackers were armed.’

The gunmen climb back into their Citroen as more police arrive on the scene and a firefight ensues.

The killers fire at the police car, shooting more than a dozen times. A police spokesman, Rocco Contente, said the men ‘appeared to have opened fire on everyone.

‘It was carnage, absolute butchery.’

As they drive away, the gunmen come across another police car in the street. They get out and spray the car with bullets as its wounded driver desperately reverses back up the street.

The reversing police car crashes into a parked car and the wounded officer staggers from his vehicle.

Distressing video footage shows two of the attackers getting out of the vehicle and opening fire on the officer from about 20 yards away. He falls to the floor, his arms out – apparently pleading for mercy.

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