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France in mourning after massacre

Update: January, 09/2015 - 08:52
People gather in Toulouse on Wednesday to show their solidarity for the victims of the attack by gunmen on the offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo. — AFP/VNA Photo

PARIS (VNS)— A stunned and outraged France was in mourning yesterday, as security forces desperately hunted two brothers suspected of gunning down 12 people in an Islamist attack on a satirical weekly.

 

Leaders send condolences to France

HA NOI — Viet Nam President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday sent messages of condolence to their French counterparts Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls over the terror attack.

The same day, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also offered his condolences to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

At the Foreign Ministry's regular press conference in Ha Noi yesterday, Deputy Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said the attack was brutal and unacceptable, and Viet Nam strongly condemned terror activities in any form.

Viet Nam sent its deepest condolences to the French Government, people and families of those who were caught in the attack, and believed those responsible would be brought to justice swiftly, she added. — VNS

The massacre, the country's bloodiest attack in half a century, triggered poignant and spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity around the world.

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

The French satirical newspaper will come out as scheduled next week, one of its surviving staffers said.

Declaring yesterday a national day of mourning – only the fifth in the last 50 years – President Francois Hollande called the bloodbath "an act of exceptional barbarity" and "undoubtedly a terrorist attack".

Police issued arrest warrants for Cherif Kouachi, 32, 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 two men were likely to be "armed and dangerous," authorities warned.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said seven people had been detained in the hunt for the brothers, and a judicial source who refused to be named added these were men and women close to the suspects. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, meanwhile, told French radio the two suspects were known to intelligence services and were "no doubt" being followed before Wednesday's attack.

The frantic manhunt stretched into the night with search-and-seizure operations in Strasbourg and towns near Paris, while in northeastern Reims, police commandos raided a building later scoured by white-clad forensic police.

Hamyd Mourad, an 18-year-old suspected of being an accomplice in the attack, handed himself in, with police sources saying he had seen his name "circulating on social media".

Hollande ordered flags to fly at half-mast for three days in France and was due to convene an emergency cabinet meeting at 8:30am. A minute's silence will be observed across the country at midday, after which the bells of Paris's famous Notre Dame cathedral will sound out across the capital.Shocked people from Moscow to Washington rallied 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 in France, several other incidents rocked the jittery nation, although it was not clear whether they were linked to Wednesday's attack.

A gunman shot dead a policewoman and wounded a city employee with anautomatic rifle just to the south of Paris and there was an explosion at akebab shop in eastern France, with no casualties immediately reported. Two Muslim places of worship were also fired at in the wake of Wednesday's attacks, prosecutors said. — VNS


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