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Terror struck in Paris, France as masked gunmen who authorities suspect may have Islamist extremist ties burst into the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier today, killing 12 people in the process. Charlie Hebdo has slammed beloved Muslim figures its pages, earning the criticism of religious supporters.

Among the dead are the editorial director and four cartoonists responsible for posting drawings of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Based on accounts from French authorities, The gunmen wore hoods, shouted Islamic phrases and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles. The masked men fled the scene in a stolen car into the city. As reported by local outlets, eight people were injured including five in critical condition.

More from USA Today:

French authorities said they were looking for three suspects in the noon-time attack.

The 12 dead included Stephane Charbonnier, the weekly newspaper’s editorial director known as Charb, spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre of the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed.

Two officers were among the dead, including one who had been assigned as Charb’s bodyguard after prior death threats against him, a police official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

According to France24, French officials have raised security alerts throughout Paris and the region, including places of worship, media offices and public transportation. France24 also added that Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed in 2011 over its caricatures of Muslim figures.

Photo: France24/USA Today

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