Police are searching for two brothers from the Paris area and a third man from nearby Reims. Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, aged 34 and 32, and 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad were named by French police. Counter-terror forces launched a raid on a property in Reims late on Wednesday night. Pictures emerged on social media of French commandos preparing to enter a property. Reports suggest the alleged gunmen may be hiding near a dental school in the city.
The Kouachi brothers are reported to be French-Algerian while teenager Mourad has been described as “homeless”. A French official claimed one of the men belonged to a Yemeni terrorist cell. The devastating attack began at 11am on Wednesday morning at the HQ of Charlie Hebdo, a publication known for it’s controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2011. The gunmen, thought to have a grudge over the mag’s open press policy, were reported to have been carrying AK47 rifles and rocket launchers. Officers tried to stop the attackers in a heated shootout but the raiders were able to flee in a hijacked car and sped away.
Paris is on the highest level of alert as police and soldiers scour the French capital for the killers. A police spokesman said officers were using high-tech equipment to trace the men. Emmanuel Quemener said: “Those men are our most wanted, so that stays a priority, they’re armed and extremely dangerous – and things will certainly evolve behind the scenes.” The gunmen were reportedly heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “God is greatest” as they opened fire. Chilling images show the masked attackers standing close to a black car wielding their weapons.