Sat | Aug 18, 2018

French police detain suspects in newspaper attack

Published:Friday | January 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Frightened yet defiant, French residents held a day of mourning yesterday for the 12 people slain on Wednesday at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly newspaper. French police hunted for the two heavily armed brothers suspected in the massacre, fearing they might strike again.

The two suspects - one a former pizza deliveryman who had a prior terror conviction and a fondness for rap - should be considered "armed and dangerous," French police said in a bulletin.

A third suspect, Mourad Hamyd, 18, surrendered at a police station after hearing his name linked to the attacks, a Paris prosecutor's spokeswoman said. His relationship to the Kouachi brothers is unclear.

Ninety people have been questioned so far in the investigation and nine people close to the two suspects - Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his 34-year-old brother, Said Kouachi - were detained for further questioning, officials said.

Authorities extended France's maximum terror alert from Paris to the northern Picardie region, focusing on several towns that might be possible safe havens for the two suspects, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

Call for tolerance

French President Francois Hollande, joined by residents, tourists and Muslim leaders, called for tolerance after the country's worst terrorist attack in decades. At noon, the Paris metro came to a standstill, and a crowd fell silent near Notre Dame cathedral to honour Wednesday's victims.

Hollande said the possibility of a new attack "is our main concern" and announced several overnight arrests. Tensions ran high in Paris, where 800 extra police patrolled schools, places of worship and transit hubs. Britain increased its security checks at ports and borders.

The satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and witnesses said the attackers claimed allegiance to al-Qaida in Yemen. Around the world, from Berlin to Bangkok, thousands filled squares and streets, holding up pens to defend freedom of speech and honour those killed in the massacre.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in Wednesday's newspaper attack and 11 people were wounded, four of them critically. The publication had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirised other religions and political figures.