Charlie Hebdo plans 3 million run as France hunts for terror cell

  • AP, Paris
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2015 02:13 IST

The surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo plans an unprecedented run of 3 million copies of the next issue Wednesday, with the Prophet Mohammad on the cover, as France hunts for other members of the terrorist cell involved in the attacks on the satirical weekly newspaper.

Late Monday, the website of the newspaper Liberation, which has been hosting the Charlie Hebdo staff, posted an image of the next cover of the satirical weekly. It featured a cartoon of Mohammad, with a tear streaming down his cheek, and holding a sign: "Je Suis Charlie" - "I Am Charlie."

Overhead was the phrase: "All is forgiven."

A man holds a placard reading 'Freedom of the press is priceless, fundamentalism, of any kind, will not pass' as others hold up placards reading in French, 'I am Charlie' during a gathering at the Place de la Republique (Republic square) in Paris, on January 7, 2015. AFP Photo

"Three million people will have Muhammad's, the prophet's drawing, at home," Zineb El Rhazoui, a columnist for Charlie Hebdo, told the BBC on Tuesday.

French police said as many as six members of a terrorist cell involved in the Paris attacks may still be at large, including a man who was seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the gunmen.

The country has deployed 10,000 troops to protect sensitive sites - including Jewish schools and neighborhoods - in the wake of the attacks that killed 17 people last week.

Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi and their friend, Amedy Coulibaly, were killed Friday by police after a murderous spree at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket. The three all claimed ties to Islamic extremists in West Asia.

Two police officials told The Associated Press that authorities were searching the Paris area for the Mini Cooper registered to Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly's widow. Turkish officials say she is now in Syria.

One of the police officials said the cell consisted of about 10 members, and that "five or six could still be at large," but he did not provide their names. The other official said the cell was made up of about eight people and included Boumeddiene.

One of the police officials also said Coulibaly apparently set off a car bomb Thursday in the town of Villejuif, but no one was injured and it did not receive significant media attention at the time.

People gather in solidarity of the victims of a terror attack against a satirical newspaper, in Paris, on January 7, 2015. AP Photo

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the manhunt is urgent because "the threat is still present."

The attacks began Wednesday with 12 people killed at the publication Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions, by gunmen the police identified as the Kouachi brothers. Police have said, however, that the attack was carried out by three people.

Authorities said Coulibaly killed a policewoman Thursday and then killed four people at the kosher market Friday before he was slain by police.

Video emerged Sunday of Coulibaly explaining how the attacks in Paris would unfold. French police want to find the person or persons who shot and posted the video, which was edited after Friday's attacks.

Witnesses said the Kouachis claimed they were being supported by al Qaeda in Yemen, the group the US considers the most dangerous offshoot of that network. In his video and in comments to French media before he died, Coulibaly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has taken over large sections of Iraq and Syria but is a bitter rival of al Qaeda.

Ties among the three attackers date back to at least 2005, when Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, 32, were jailed together.

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