A terrorist attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) has left 12 people dead in the country's worst terrorist incident for 50 years. Gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar", or God is Great, claimed to be from al-Qaeda as they picked off their targets. This is how the attack unfolded.
At around 10.20am, two hooded gunmen pull up in a black Citroen C3 and storm the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Rue Nicolas Appert in Paris’s 11th arrondissement. As they approach, they reportedly say to a man in the street: "Tell the media this is from al-Qaeda in Yemen." According to one report, they initially go to the wrong building - No.11 - before realising the magazine is based next door.
The magazine’s previous premises were burned down in 2011 after it published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Reporters from an office next door, who take refuge on the roof, report that the men are armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket launcher.
Corinne Rey, a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo, is forced at gunpoint to enter the security code for the front door. "When I arrived in front of the door of the building of the paper, two men hooded and armed brutally threatened us," she says later. "They wanted to come in, go up. I pressed in the code."
The gunmen calmly enter the second floor editorial office, “commando style”, reportedly seeking out journalists by name and calling their surnames in turn as they open fire, killing ten people and injuring at least five. The senior staff had been in a weekly editorial meeting at the time, ahead of the magazine going to press, as was intended, later in the day.
The magazine’s publication director, Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb (above), who had a price put on his head by al-Qaeda in 2013, is reported to be among the dead, along with cartoonists Jean Cabu, Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac and Georges Wolinski.
Ms Rey says: "They shot on Wolinski, Cabu... it lasted 5 minutes... I had hidden under my desk. They spoke French perfectly... they said they were al-Qaeda."
Benoit Bringer, a journalist who works next door for the agency Premieres Lignes Tele, tells French TV: “Two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs. A few minutes later we heard lots of shots.” He says the gunmen left the building after ten minutes. According to one report, they shouted: “We have killed Charlie Hebdo! We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed!”
Three policemen on pushbikes are the first responders to arrive at the scene, but they take refuge until backup arrives. "I saw [the gunmen] leaving and shooting," said one witness. "They were wearing masks. These guys were serious. At first I thought it was special forces chasing drug traffickers or something."
When a police car blocks the gunmen’s escape route down the narrow street, the gunmen open fire, shouting “Allahu Akhbar”, or God is great, as they do so.
One of the journalists taking refuge on the roof next door to the Charlie Hebdo office takes a video of the incident. The rear winscreen of the Citroen appears to have shattered.
A police car is later photographed with 15 bullet holes in its windscreen and one in its bonnet. It is unclear whether it is the same car seen in the video.
The gunmen drive away, wounding a policeman, then knocking over and wounding several pedestrians. A short while later they stop in Boulevard Richard Lenoir, a residential street, and get out of the car to attack a policeman.
In a video shot from an upstairs window, and posted on YouTube, the hooded killers get out of the Citroen, holding automatic rifles. The driver sidesteps around a white rental van and fires three shots in quick succession, hitting the policeman, who is left lying on the pavement.
A further five shots are fired, apparently by the second gunman, as the policeman rolls onto his side, trying to protect himself. The two gunmen run towards him, and the stricken policeman turns and looks over his shoulder to see them approaching, then holds up his right hand the first gunman runs past him and appears to shoot him in the head with a single shot from no more than a foot away. The policeman stops moving.
Holding their guns across their chests in military style, the gunmen jog back to the Citroen, shouting to each other. One holds up a finger, as if in triumph.
The passenger stoops down to pick up a shoe he had lost as he got out of the car, and the gunmen, who seem not to be in a hurry, get back in and drive off.
The gunmen drive north and abandon the Citroen in Rue de Meaux, then hijack another vehicle before leaving central Paris. Police confirm two policeman have been killed, taking the death toll to 12. One of the dead policemen is later reported to be Charb's bodyguard, assigned to him after prior death threats.
At the scene of the attack, paramedics evacuate the wounded as police describe the scene inside as “carnage”. The number of wounded is reported to be 20, with five critical.
Wandrille Lanos, a TV reporter who works across the road and one of the first people to enter the Charlie Hebdo office after the attack, says: "As we progressed into the office, we saw that the number of casualties was very high. There was a lot of people dead on the floor, and there was blood everywhere."
President Francois Hollande rushes to the scene. "An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris," he says. "Measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice."
With the gunmen still at large, Paris is placed on maximum terror alert, with police and military protection at other newspaper offices that could be targets, as well as tourist sites, department stores and metro stations.
After the black Citroen is discovered abandoned in a Paris street, police experts begin a detailed examination in a desperate search for clues that might uncover the identity of the gunmen and help point to where they could be. The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says three attackers are being sought.
Shortly before 3pm, a car is found burning outside a Paris synagogue. It is unclear whether the car is the second one used by the gunmen or even whether it is related to the terrorist attack.