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Muhammad Gay Kiss Among Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

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Paris police have launched a massive hunt for the suspects believed to be the gunmen responsible for killing 12 people inside the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo Wednesday. At least one of the three suspects has surrendered to police, reports the Associated Press.

Two police officers guarding the building and several of the publication's staffers were among those killed, including Charlie Hebdo's editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier.

Charbonnier was no stranger to recieving death threats following the newspaper's repeated publication of various cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad, though he had reportedly brushed them off in recent years. 

In 2011, Charlie Hebdo published cover art that depicted Muhammad as a gay man kissing a character that appeared to represent Charbonnier himself. A caption above the decidedly passionate-looking kiss read "Love is stronger than hate."

The following year, after publishing cartoon illustrations of the prophet in the nude and in highly sexual poses, Charbonnier again dismissed threats from terrorist groups like al Qaeda. "Muhammad isn't sacred to me," he told the AP. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Koranic law."

At press time, multiple media outlets have reported 18-year-old suspect Hamyd Mourad has turned himself in to police, while the other two suspects — believed to be brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi — are still at large, considered armed and dangerous. Eyewitness accounts and video of one segment of the well-coordinated attack indicate that at least one of the suspects yelled in French that they were al Qaeda, while Parisian officials told ABC News the gunmen called their victims by name before shooting them in the head.

Tens of thousands of people in France and around the world gathered at vigils in support of those mourning in Paris, while many have taken to social media to express solidarity with the paper's victims under the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie ("I am Charlie"). French president François Hollande has declared Thursday an official day of mourning across France.

Tags: World, Crime, France

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