One of the three suspects identified by French police for massacring 12 journalists and police at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has been arrested, while the manhunt to track down the remaining two continues.

Two brothers and a teenager have been revealed as the three suspects linked to a deadly terrorist attack on an anti-Islamist newspaper in France.

Said Kouachi, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32, both from Paris, were identified along with Hamyd Mourad, 18, from the north-eastern city of Reims.


Suspects in the massacre: Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. Photo / Supplied

Anti-terrorism officers hunting the terrorists issued photographs of the two brothers describing them as "armed and dangerous".

Advertisement

It came as a French official close to the case said Mourad had surrendered to police "after seeing his name on social media" and was arrested at an undisclosed location.

It appeared last night that the hunt for the other men had turned to the Croix Rouge region of Reims, some two hours by car from Paris.

Dozens of members from France's elite anti-terror unit surrounded an apartment building and there were reports a flat had been searched.

Live television pictures showed police Swat teams holding positions around the building, with onlookers taking photographs.

Either the suspects will be able to escape, or "there will be a showdown", said a member of the unit, urging journalists at the scene to remain "vigilant".

Some 100,000 people gathered across France to back the publication as a huge manhunt was launched to find the attackers.

The suspected Al Qaeda militants massacred 12 people in Paris yesterday (local time), and among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.

One of the dead officers was named yesterday as Ahmed Merabet, who is believed to have been a Muslim.

Eleven more people were injured - including four in a critical condition - and there are fears the death toll could rise.

Last night, thousands of people went to Republique Square near the scene to honour the victims, holding signs reading "Je suis Charlie" - "I am Charlie".

The three suspects were last night said by Metronews to be all French citizens - with Mourad reported to be homeless.

The men are linked to a Yemeni terrorist network, officials said, but would not confirm whether that group was al-Qaeda.

Police surround an apartment in Reims. Photo / Screengrab

Security forces had been searching for the attackers, who fled in a Citroen hatchback that is being examined by forensics teams after being dumped. A police source told Reuters that one of the three suspects had been identified because his identity card was left in the getaway car.


Footage shot by witnesses captures the moment gunmen bore down on a victim. Seconds later he was executed. Photo / AP

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said three men were being hunted and said "all the means" had been mobilised to "neutralise the three criminals who have committed this barbaric act".

He added that the operation will take place as quickly as possible in order to "identify the aggressors and arrest them in a way that they will be punished with the severity that corresponds to the barbaric act they have committed".

The masked attackers, armed with automatic rifles, were heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" - God is great - as they stormed the office before opening fire in an editorial meeting.

Watch raw footage of the gunmen storming the building.

Footage showed them shouting in French "we have killed Charlie Hebdo -we have avenged the Prophet Mohamed," in an apparent reference to the magazine's publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.

Witnesses said the gunmen claimed to be part of terrorist group al-Qaeda in Yemen and asked for cartoonists by name before murdering them.

The gunmen fled eastwards towards the Paris suburbs, dumping their car in a residential area, police said. They then hijacked another car before running over a pedestrian and disappearing.

"There is a possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured," police union official Rocco Contento said.


The pin 'Les Editions Rotative' marks the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris' 11th district, close to the Bastille.

Eight journalists, a guest and two police officers were killed, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molin. Eleven more were injured, including four who are in a critical condition.

Gérald Kierzec, 40, a doctor who was one of the first people to go into the magazine's office after the shooting, told The Daily Telegraph: "There was a first body lying in the lobby. Then I took the stairs which were covered in blood. When I got to the second floor, there were bodies lying one on top of another.

The Australian partner of one of the Charlie Hebdo staff members currently in hospital for a gunshot wound has spoken to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Maisie Dubosarsky, 27, had been emailing her boyfriend, Simon Fieschi, 31, minutes before the gunmen stormed the magazine offices.

Fieschi was reportedly being kept in an induced coma after being shot in the shoulder.

"He liked to say that his job was to troll people," Dubosarsky told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"They're very cool people [at Charlie Hebdo] and they tell people to get lost.

"They got threats all the time but ... none of them thought that their lives were under threat. They were out in public all the time."

"It was carnage, with war wounds. There was blood everywhere. I have never seen anything like it in my career."


Forensic teams work on the gunmen's car. Photo / AP

Footage taken by terrified witnesses from windows and on rooftops overlooking the scene showed the terrorists shooting one of their victims, a police uniform at point-blank range as he lay injured on the pavement.

The Times reported that the injured police officer, who was lying on the ground, said to one of the gunmen: "Do you want to kill me?" The man replied "OK, chief" and then shot him dead.

Corinne "Coco" Rey, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, told French newspaper L'Humanite: "I had gone to collect my daughter from day care and as I arrived in front of the door of the paper's building two hooded and armed men threatened us. They wanted to go inside, to go upstairs. I entered the code.

"They fired on Wolinski, Cabu...it lasted five minutes... sheltered under a desk...They spoke perfect French...claimed to be from al-Qaeda."

Prominent cartoonists Jean Cabut, the magazine's artistic director, Stephane Charbonnier, its editor, and Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac were among the dead.


A tribute set up in a Paris street. Photo / AP

The massacre was France's deadliest terror attack in at least two decades and prompted condemnation from world leaders including John Key and Barack Obama, alongside journalists and free speech campaigners.

French president Francois Hollande, who rushed to the scene of the attack, said it had left France in a state of shock. He added: "We need to show that we are a united country. We have to be firm, we have to be strong."

US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II also offered their condolences to those affected, after masked men armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles opened fire at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly.


Rescue workers rush the injured to hospital. Photo / AP

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has strongly condemned the violent attack.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost loved ones, those injured in this brutal attack, and the people of France," Mr Key said.

"The targeting of journalists going about their daily work is an attack on the fourth estate and the democratic principles of freedom of speech and expression, which must be strongly condemned.

Pope Francis said there could be no justification for "the horrible attack that plunged the city of Paris into mourning".

It has prompted a wave of global solidarity with Charlie Hebdo over what is being seen as a direct attack on freedom of expression.

The hashtag #jesuisCharlie is trending on Twitter and people are wearing stickers bearing the slogan at vigils in Paris and around the world.

'Religions deserve criticism'

Salman Rushdie, the British-Indian writer who was forced into hiding after Iran issued a death sentence on him for allegedly insulting Islam, hailed Charlie Hebdo's style.

"I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity," he said.

He added: "Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

Media rights groups also criticised the attack.

"The scale of the violence is appalling," said Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand."

Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said: "A newsroom attack with machine guns is a type of violence we witness in Iraq, Somalia or Pakistan."

Stephan Oberreit, director of Amnesty International France, added: "It is an atrocity that sought to kill journalists, suppress freedom of expression and sow fear."

Security was reportedly stepped up today at the Danish newspaper that provoked angry and sometimes deadly protests worldwide by publishing a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Charlie Hebdo had reprinted the cartoons in 2006.

"Completely defenceless and innocent people became the victims of what appears to be an attack on free speech," said Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

"The French society, like ours, is open, democratic and based on a free and critical press. Those are values that are deeply rooted in all of us, and which we shall protect."

- The Independent, AP, AFP, Daily Mail