Church condemns 'abominable' attack on people and freedom of the press

The Vatican has condemned today’s massacre at satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Twelve people, including the editor, three cartoonists and two policemen, are known to be among the victims of the attack, carried out by three gunmen in central Paris.

The attack is believed to be in response to the magazine’s cartoons poking fun at aspects of Islam; one attacker was heard to shout “the Prophet has been avenged”.

In a statement the Vatican condemned the shootings as a “double act of violence, abominable because it is both an attack against people as well as against freedom of the press”.

The gunmen asked for the names of the cartoonists before murdering them, and afterwards killed an injured police officer in cold blood. The magazine, which has depicted Pope Benedict XVI in the past holding a condom, pokes fun at all political and religious targets, but has been threatened for mocking Islamic-inspired violence.

A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of France has expressed his “profound emotion and horror” at the atrocities. Spokesman Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas said “nothing can justify” such violence.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth wrote in a tweet: “My prayers are with the victims of the tragic events in Paris and their loved ones who will be receiving terrible news today.”

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