Paris shooting: Suspect previously tried on terrorism charges claim police
The police source said Cherif Kouachi had previously been tried on terrorism charges.
JOHANNESBURG - It's emerged one of the men wanted in connection with the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo has previously been convicted on terrorism charges.
Police are still hunting two French nationals, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, after 12 people - including several cartoonists and two policemen - were killed on Wednesday.
Hamyd Mourad, the youngest of the three people police are looking for, has turned himself in.
An official, who declined to identify the 18-year-old man, said he had handed himself over at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, in northeastern France at around 2300 GMT. BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the man had decided to go to the police after seeing his name in social media. It said other arrests had taken place in circles linked to the two brothers.
On Wednesday hooded attackers stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning Islam and other religions in the most deadly militant attack on French soil in decades.
A police source said Cherif Kouachi had previously been tried on terrorism charges and served 18 months in prison. He was charged with criminal association related to a terrorist enterprise in 2005. He had been part of an Islamist cell that enlisted French nationals from a mosque in eastern Paris to go to Iraq to fight Americans in Iraq. He was arrested before leaving for Iraq to join militants.
The source said one of them had been identified by his identity card, which had been left in the getaway car.
The police source said anti-terrorism police searching for the suspects and links to them had carried out searches in Reims, Strasbourg and Paris as part of the investigation.
Police published pictures of the two brothers Thursday morning calling for witnesses and describing the two men as "armed and dangerous."
A Reuters reporter in Reims saw anti-terrorism police secure a building before a forensics team entered an apartment there while dozens of residents looked on.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Video footage shows two armed men shooting a man believed to be a law enforcement officer in Paris.
During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) as shots rang out. Another walked over to a police officer lying wounded on the street and shot him point-blank with an assault rifle before the two calmly climbed into a black car and drove off.
A police union official said there were fears of further attacks, and described the scene in the offices as carnage, with a further four wounded fighting for their lives.
Tens of thousands joined impromptu rallies across France in memory of the victims and to support freedom of expression.
The government declared the highest state of alert, tightening security at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores as the search for the assailants got under way.
Some Parisians expressed fears about the effect of the attack on community relations in France, which has Europe's biggest Muslim population.
"This is bad for everyone - particularly for Muslims despite the fact that Islam is a fine religion. It risks making a bad situation worse," Cecile Electon, an arts worker who described herself as an atheist, told Reuters at a vigil on Paris's Place de la Republique attended by 35,000 people.
Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders of all faiths and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. Jihadists online repeatedly warned that the magazine would pay for its ridicule.
The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and called for "lone wolf" attacks on French soil.
There was no claim of responsibility. However, a witness quoted by 20 Minutes daily newspaper said one of the assailants cried out before getting into his car: "Tell the media that it is al Qaeda in Yemen!"
Supporters of Islamic State and other jihadist groups hailed the attack on Internet sites. Governments throughout Europe have expressed fear that fighters returning from Iraq or Syria could launch attacks in their home countries.
"Today the French Republic as a whole was the target," President Francois Hollande said in a prime-time evening television address. He declared a national day of mourning on Thursday.
In another clip on television station iTELE, the men are heard shouting in French: "We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad."
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the assailants killed a man at the entrance of the building to force entry. They then headed to the second floor and opened fire on an editorial meeting attended by eight journalists, a policeman tasked with protecting the magazine's editorial director and a guest.
"What we saw was a massacre. Many of the victims had been executed, most of them with wounds to the head and chest," Patrick Hertgen, an emergencies services medic called out to treat the injured, told Reuters.
A Reuters reporter saw groups of armed policeman patrolling around department stores in the shopping district and there was an armed gendarme presence outside the Arc de Triomphe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the shooting.
US President Barack Obama has condemned the killings saying the US stands with France.
"The cowardly, evil attacks that took place reinforces once again why it's so important for us to stand in solidarity with France."
The dead included co-founder Jean "Cabu" Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier.
Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim faith (CFCM), condemned an "immensely barbaric act also against democracy and freedom of the press" and said its perpetrators could not claim to be true Muslims.
Rico, a friend of Cabut, who joined the Paris vigil, said his friend had paid for people misunderstanding his humour.
"These attacks are only going to get worse. It's like a tsunami, it won't stop and what's happening today will probably feed the National Front," he told Reuters without giving his family name.
The far-right National Front has won support on discontent over immigration to France. Some fear Wednesday's attack could be used to feed anti-Islamic agitation.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen said it was too early to draw political conclusions but added: "The increased terror threat linked to Islamic fundamentalism is a simple fact."
France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.
The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed eight people and injured 150.
Additional reporting by Reuters.