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Charlie Hebdo Shooting: Obama, Cameron Condemn 'Sickening' Paris Murders, Defend Freedom of the Press

( [email protected] ) Jan 07, 2015 02:13 PM EST

French Shooting
People hold up pens and placards reading in French, 'I am Charlie' during a gathering at the Place de la Republique (Republic square) in Paris. Photo: Getty Images

British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Obama have condemned the "sickening" terrorist attack on France's Charlie Hebdo magazine, and vowed their respective country's full support in fighting Islamic extremism.

Paris remains on high alert as masked attackers, thought to to be Islamic militants, shot twelve people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, on Wednesday. The terrorists, thought to be at least two in number, then fled to the streets of Paris.

Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

"The murders in Paris are sickening," tweeted Cameron following the attack. "We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press."

US President Barack Obama also condemned the shootings, calling them "horrific" and  offering to provide any assistance needed "to help bring these terrorists to justice".

According to witnesses, the gunmen shouted, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic after opening fire during the magazine's daily editorial meeting.

BBC News reports that U.S. counterterrorism agencies believe Islamic extremist groups ISIS or al Qaeda may be responsible for the attack, as the magazine has previously been singled out as a target in al Qaeda's publication, Inspire.

According to NBC, Muslim's distaste for the satirical newspaper stems from its "irreverent take on news and current affairs."

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo's account featured a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the words, "And, above all, health." Earlier cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad--which is illegal, according to Muslim law, led to protests and the burning of the magazine's office three years ago.

Islamic militants have also reportedly vowed to attack French citizens because of the government's continued military operations against terrorists, including aiding the U.S.-led coalition in the Middle East.

French Prime Minister Manual Valls has raised France's security to its highest level, "attack alert," due to the attacks. All available forces are currently mobilized, with civil and military reinforcements.

Charlie Hebdo's staff has been "murdered in a cowardly manner", French President Hollande told reporters."We are threatened because we are a country of liberty," he added, appealing for national unity.

Charlie Hebdo
The current image on Charlie Hebdo's website shows the single image of ''Je suis Charlie'' (I am Charlie) on a black banner, referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims.

Currently, Charlie Hebdo's website, which went offline during the attack, is showing the single image of "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) on a black banner, referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims.