PARIS — Masked gunmen stormed the offices of a French satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 11 people before escaping, police and a witness said. The weekly has previously drawn condemnation from Muslims.
Xavier Castaing, head of communications for the Paris police prefecture, confirmed the deaths in the shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that been repeatedly threatened for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial sketches.
French President Francois Hollande was headed to the scene, and top government officials planned an emergency meeting.
Luc Poignant, an official of the SBP police union, said the attackers escaped in two vehicles.
A witness to the attack, Benoit Bringer, told the iTele network he saw multiple masked men armed with automatic weapons at the newspaper's office in central Paris.
Charlie Hebdo's offices were firebombed in 2011 after a spoof issue featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published crude Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations around the Muslim world.