The Committee to Protect Journalists, which just finished a year-end report on the killing of journalists and media workers in 2014, decried the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, that left at least 12 people dead--eight of them journalists, according to a Paris prosecutor, with 11 wounded, four seriously. The attackers were still at large at press time and France on high alert.
The chief editor and cartoonists for the magazine were among those killed, according to reports.
“We are shocked and saddened by the horrific violence perpetrated against the weekly Charlie Hebdo—one of the deadliest media attacks ever documented by CPJ,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon Tuesday. “Around the world, journalists working in their own countries are targeted and killed because of what they publish or broadcast. An attack of this nature in Paris shows that the threat to journalists and free expression is global, with no safe haven.”
"This is a brazen assault on free expression in the heart of Europe," added CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney in a statement. "The scale of the violence is appalling. Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand."
The magazine was firebombed in 2011, according to CPJ, after running a "spoof edition" on Islam that included depictions of the prophet Muhammad.
Media reports said that at least one of the gunmen indicated the attack was in response to the magazine's satire of Islam.
In CPJ's year-end report, it had already documented the past three years as the most dangerous for journalists since the group began keeping statistics.
"I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people," President Obama said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time." The President later condemned the killings as a cowardly attack on journalists and the freedoms they represent.
Secretary of State John Kerry weighed in on the attacks. "Today, tomorrow, in Paris and across the world, the freedom of expression this magazine represented is unable to be killed by this kind of act of terrorism." He said that what terrorists don't understand is that such attacks only strengthen the commitment to freedom of speech, a freedom that "will never be eradicated by any act of terror."
Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Tex.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, offered support to the French government and had a message for the gunmen. "My prayers are with the victims of the shooting in Paris and their families," he said. "I am confident the brave men and women of the French law enforcement will capture those responsible for this act of terror. The United States stands ready to assist our French partners, and we join with them in sending a clear message to extremists: your campaign of terror will be stopped and you will be brought to justice."
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