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Hunt for two in French shooting that killed 12; one surrenders

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Hunt for two in French shooting that killed 12; one surrenders
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Paris: One man sought in the deadly shooting at a French satirical paper has turned himself in, and police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men with possible links to al-Qaida in the military-style, methodical killing of 12 people.

President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene of France's deadliest such attack in more than half a century, called the assault on the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo "an act of exceptional barbarism."

France raised its terror alert system to the maximum Attack Alert and bolstered security with more than 800 extra soldiers to guard media offices, places of worship, transport and other sensitive areas.

Fears had been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis trained in warfare abroad would stage attacks at home.

French brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, in their early 30s, should be considered armed and dangerous, according to a police bulletin released early today.

Mourad Hamyd, 18, surrendered at a police station in Charleville-Mezieres, a small town in France's eastern Champagne region, said Paris prosecutor's spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre. She did not offer details on Hamyd's relationship with the men.

Heavily armed police moved into the nearby city of Reims, searching for the suspects without success, Thibault-Lecuivre said.

Video from BFM-TV showed police dressed in white apparently taking samples inside an apartment. It was not immediately clear who lived there.

One of the police officials said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network, and Cedric Le Bechec, a witness who encountered the escaping gunmen, quoted the attackers as saying: "You can tell the media that it's al-Qaida in Yemen."

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss the sensitive and ongoing investigation.

Cherif Kouachi was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency. He said he was outraged at the torture of Iraqi inmates at the US prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad.

The masked, black-clad men with assault rifles stormed the offices near Paris' Bastille monument to attack the publication, which had long drawn condemnation and threats. It was firebombed in 2011 for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirised other religions and political figures.

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