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Gunmen Storm Satirical Magazine's Office In Paris

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get the latest now on the shooting in Paris. Cell phone video shows gunmen entering the office of a satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo today. The gunmen, we are told, killed 12 people, according to the latest count, and that includes one person who was brutally shot on the street and then shot again as a video camera captured the moment. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is on the scene in Paris, and she joins us once again. Eleanor, we're going to be doing this all day. Let's work through what happened in what order as best you know right now.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: OK, right. Steve, it's starting to become a little bit clearer. Around 11:30 a.m. Paris time, masked men walked into the offices of the satirical weekly newsmagazine Charlie Hebdo. First, they shot the police officer that was permanently there to guard the offices. Then they went up to the second floor and began shooting wildly in the newsroom.

They've killed four of the founder cartoonists of this magazine, and then they came down and got into their cars. And there's a video from someone from one of the buildings - the floors above them, filmed them. They shot a police officer right then, and that's when they yelled - and I heard it - we've avenged the prophet. Then they got back in their car calmly and sped away.

They went to the eastern edge of Paris where the beltway is, abandoned their car, took another car, and that's where police have lost trace of them. There's a massive manhunt going on in the Paris region, and it is under the highest alert possible for terrorism. It's called eminent attack. School trips have been canceled, and some metro is closed. And there's going to be security everywhere.

INSKEEP: OK.

BEARDSLEY: That's where we are right now.

INSKEEP: Lot of facts to follow up on there, Eleanor Beardsley. First, you said they killed four of what you described as the founder cartoonists of this magazine, which had published cartoons that offended people, actually, of quite a few religions. The fact that they killed the cartoonists, does that suggest that they knew who they were looking for in there?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely, they knew. This magazine - yes, this magazine was funny, but it was also irreverent - for some, gross - and it offended everybody. It attacked Jews, Christians, Muslims. And in 2007, it reprinted some Danish cartoons of the prophet and that - I think it got a fatwa of threats after that. And then in 2011, the offices of this magazine were firebombed because they called themselves Charia Hebdo instead of Charlie Hebdo and said that they had the Prophet Muhammad as their weekly editor.

So these people were - this was the pinnacle of the freedom of the press. These people refuse to bow. They said no one should be outside. We can tease anyone we want. We can't say everyone but Muslims are extremists. They did not think they were threatened by Muslims. They knew they were threatened by crazy extremists. So these are the people who are dead today, the pinnacles of freedom of expression.

INSKEEP: Another fact to follow up on, you said that they shot - the first person, it seems, that was shot here was a police officer permanently stationed at the front door. It seems that people were aware that they might be a target particularly having been targeted before.

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely. This police officer has been on duty there since 2011 when the offices were firebombed. Somebody threw, you know - it didn't blow the whole office up. They did some damage. So the policeman has been there, and I just heard on the news media that the police who actually guarded the offices of this magazine have been threatened themselves and were themselves being offered some protection. So, yeah, people knew it, but France was on high alert. But no one was expecting this, and this kind of carnage in the center of Paris is just unheard of.

INSKEEP: OK, Eleanor, thanks very much. We'll be checking back with you again. That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley on the streets of Paris outside the offices of a newspaper which was attacked today, a dozen people reported killed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.