Among the slain: from left, clockwise, Stephane Charbonnier, known by his pen name Charb, editor of Charlie Hebdo; Georges Wolinski; Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac; Lead cartoonist Jean “Cabu” Cabut; and contributor Bernard Maris.
The best current account is from the Daily Mail:
Four of France’s most revered cartoonists – Stephane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac and Jean Cabut – were among 12 people executed by masked gunmen in Paris today at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two masked men brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the magazine’s headquarters this morning, opening fire on staff, also shooting dead contributor Bernard Maris, 68.
Police officers were involved in a gunfight with the ‘calm and highly disciplined men’, who escaped in a hijacked car, speeding away towards east Paris. They remain on the loose, along with a third armed man.
Charbonnier, 47, known by his pen name Charb, was the editor of the weekly magazine, and once famously said ‘I’d prefer to die standing than live on my knees’. He also declared, in the face of animosity from extremists, ‘I live under French law, not Koranic law’.
Cabut, 76, also called Cabu, was Charlie Hebdo’s lead cartoonist, Wolinski an 80-year-old satirist who had been drawing cartoons since the 1960s and Tignous a 57-year-old contributor to the publication.
The gunmen reportedly asked for the cartoonists by name before shooting them dead and yelling ‘the Prophet has been avenged’. …
[T]here were unconfirmed reports that one of the gunmen said to a witness: ‘You say to the media, it was Al Qaeda in Yemen.’ …
Mr Charbonnier, who once said ‘a drawing has never killed anyone’, was included in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by Al Qaeda.
In 2012 he said: ‘I don’t feel as though I’m killing someone with a pen. I’m not putting lives at risk. When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it.’
Charbonnier said that he didn’t fear reprisals. After publishing naked pictures of the Prophet in 2012, he said: ‘I have neither a wife nor children, not even a dog. But I’m not going to hide.’
He added: ‘It should be as normal to criticize Islam as it is to criticize Jews or Catholics.’
Georges Wolinski, who lived in Paris, was married twice, first to Jacqueline Saba, with whom he had two children, Frederica and Natacha, and then in 1971 to Maryse Bachere. They had one daughter together, Elsa-Angela.
Cabu’s drawings first appeared in a local French newspaper in 1954. He was conscripted to the Army for two years for the Algerian War, but that didn’t stop his creative talent, which was put to use in the army magazine Bled and in Paris-Match.
In the 1960s, 70s and 80s his career flourished, with the artist co-creating Hara-Kiri magazine, working on children’s TV show Recre A2 and eventually working on Charlie Hebdo as a caricaturists.
His most controversial moment came in 2006 when his drawing of the Muslim prophet Muhammad appeared on the cover with the caption ‘Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists’ with a speech bubble containing the words ‘so hard to be loved by jerks’. …
Victim Bernard Maris was an economist who contributed to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio
As well as the AK47 assault rifles, there were also reports of a rocket-propelled grenade being used in the attack, which took place during the publication’s weekly editorial meeting, meaning all the journalists would have been present.
When shots rang out at the office – located near Paris’ Bastille monument – it is thought that three policemen on bicycles were the first to respond.
‘There was a loud gunfire and at least one explosion,’ said an eye witness. ‘When police arrived there was a mass shoot-out. The men got away by car, stealing a car.’
Survivor and Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne ‘Coco’ Rey was quoted by French newspaper L’Humanite as saying: ‘I had gone to collect my daughter from day care and as I arrived in front of the door of the paper’s building two hooded and armed men threatened us. They wanted to go inside, to go upstairs. I entered the code.
‘They fired on Wolinski, Cabu… it lasted five minutes… I sheltered under a desk… They spoke perfect French… claimed to be from al Qaeda.’…
‘They were wearing military clothes, it wasn’t common clothing, like they were soldiers.’
Once inside the gunmen headed straight for Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman.
Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.
The witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he feared for his safety, said the attackers were so methodical he first mistook them for France’s elite anti-terrorism forces. Then they fired on the officer.
‘They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace,’ he said. ‘They ran back to the car. The moment they got in, the car drove off almost casually.
French policeman murdered.