French police have taken Hamyd Mourad, 18, into custody after he surrendered to authorities, according to multiple French news outlets. Mourad had been sought in relation to a murderous attack on a satirical magazine’s Paris office Wednesday, but it’s not certain whether he was involved. An ID card belonging to Mourad was reportedly found in the gunmen’s car.
The two central suspects in the attack remain at large; regional police issued a new plea for help in finding two French-born brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, both in their 30s.
They’re believed to be the gunmen who used powerful assault rifles to kill journalists and police officers at the office of the weekly Charlie Hebdo around midday Wednesday.
The Kouachi brothers are said to be French citizens.
The situation in Paris has been very fluid; we’ll update this post as needed.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuze said late Wednesday that in addition to police forces, more than 800 members of the military will help maintain security in the Paris area Thursday.
The massive manhunt for the suspects included a large police force taking up positions in a neighborhood in Reims, some 90 miles east of the capital. That operation ended without incident.
Earlier in the day, the nation was put on high alert over what French President Francois Hollande called a “terrorist operation.”
The brutal attack, carried out around midday, killed at least 12 people, including several cartoonists who helped to found the magazine. Two police officers were killed.
The shocking attack on a weekly magazine known for its satirical and irreverent cartoons that included images of the Prophet Mohammed. In response, many in France and elsewhere poured into the streets to hold vigils and demonstrations, rallying around the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” – I Am Charlie.
Cartoonists in and outside of France also responded to the attack, drawing images that commented on the attack, religion, and the ideal of free expression.
Parts of the attack were captured on eyewitness video. As they prepared to flee the scene in a black car, one of the gunmen shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad,” NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports.
Video from the scene also depicted one of the gunmen shooting a wounded police officer at point-blank range.
Here’s how the AP describes one of the suspects:
“Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq’s insurgency, and sentenced to 18 months in prison. During his 2008 trial, he told the court he was motivated by his outrage at television images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib.”