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Facts About the Charlie Hebdo Shooting in France

Getty Images / LEON NEAL

Facts About the Charlie Hebdo Shooting in France

On Jan. 7, 2015, 12 people were shot and killed, and several more were wounded in and around the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. Videos and eyewitness reports indicate three masked gunmen carried out the attack while the editorial staff was gathered for a lunchtime meeting.

Who was killed?

Ten magazine staffers and two police officers, including Muslim officer Ahmed Merabet, were killed. Known victims include Charlie Hebdo editor and cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier, known as “Charb,” as well as three other cartoonists: Jean Cabut, known as “Cabu,” Georges Wolinski, and Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac. Also killed was economist Bernard Maris, who wrote for the magazine.

Who carried out the attack?

Though no group initially claimed responsibility, the investigation found that the attack was carried out by brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who identified themselves as belonging to the Yemen branch of Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The gunmen reportedly claimed to be avenging the Prophet Muhammad and were recorded saying, “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for God is great.

Why did the gunmen target Charlie Hebdo?

Charlie Hebdo publishes cartoons, reports and jokes on topics of politics, religion and popular culture. Their cheeky take has led to controversy in the past.

On Nov. 3, 2011, for example, the magazine published a contentious issue “guest-edited” by Muhammad. In response, their offices were fire bombed and their website hacked.

In September 2012, the weekly published a cartoon of a naked Muhammad. Visual depictions of Muhammad are considered forbidden by many Muslims. Just before the shooting, the magazine tweeted a cartoon apparently depicting ISIS’ top leader.

How have people reacted to the attack?

French President François Hollande categorized the shooting as a “terrorist attack.” President Barack Obama and other world leaders were united in condemning the attack. Across the world, citizens who felt that the attack was not only a tragedy but also an affront to freedom of the press, showed solidarity with the hashtag #jesuischarlie, French for “I am Charlie.”

Read tributes and share messages of support at the memorial site for the victims.