THE MAIN suspect in the terror attack in France believed to have hacked two people with a meat clever by the old Charlie Hebdo office reportedly admitted he was enraged by the magazine republishing a cartoon of Mohammad.
The 18-year-old, of Pakistani origin, is alleged to be behind the shocking attack which is being treated by authorities as an act of Islamist terrorism.
The magazine was the focus of a horrifying terror attack in 2015, where 12 people were killed by terrorists over a controversial cartoon of Mohammed.
The main suspect in yesterday's attack, known only as Ali, went on a rampage after the magazine reprinted the cartoon ahead of the criminal trial linked to the 2015 massacre elsewhere in Paris, a judicial official told Associated Press.
Those responsible for the slaughter said the satirical publication had deliberately used blasphemy to stir up hatred against Muslims around the world.
The original massacre triggered the rallying cry "Je suis Charlie" in defence of free speech and in solidarity with the journalists and the magazine.
Celebrated cartoonist Jean Cabut for Charlie Hebdo was killed in the attack.
The latest edition of the cover sported cartoons first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005, reprinted by Charlie Hebdo in 2006.
Ali is co-operating with police and has admitted to stabbing the two victims – a man and woman, both journalists.
He was reportedly decked out in Manchester City football kit.
It took place very close by to where 12 people were killed by terrorists in 2015.
The second man, a 33-year-old from Algeria, was arrested some two hours later on a metro train – the exact nature of his alleged role in the attack is unknown.
Another five people have also been detained and questioned by the police, after what French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said was "clearly an act of Islamist terrorism".
Witnesses described hearing "screaming and screaming" as they saw victims drenched in blood being chased by a maniac armed with a blade.
The attack took place at around 11.40am local time outside where satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo operated from until the 2015 massacre in Rue Nicolas Appert.
One of the suspects was detained on the steps of the Paris Bastille opera house – around 800m from the crime scene.
Pictures show the man – with a green shirt and red shoes – sitting next to what appears to be blood stains on a wall.
Cops are now searched his home as part of the probe.
The other five people in police custody, born between the ages of 37 and 24, and reported to also be of Pakistani origin, were detained during the search of the property of the main suspect, officials said.
The Interior Minister said the younger man arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor.
He was arrested a month ago for carrying a screwdriver but not on police radar for Islamic radicalization.
Mr Darmanin said: “Obviously, there is little doubt. It's a new bloody attack against our country, against journalists, against this society.”
Both of the victims worked for French news agency for Première Lignes, which is based in the same building as the old office.
The duo were having a cigarette break when they were attacked by at least one suspect armed with a meat cleaver.
They were left with serious injuries as a huge force armed police and soldiers swooped on the scene.
Prime Minister Jean Castex described the fresh attack as "highly symbolic".
And the press agency's founder Paul Moreira chillingly said some people still believe Charlie Hebdo is based in the office block.
Charlie Hebdo was also just weeks ago subjected to new threats by Al-Qaeda as it republished controversial cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammed.
Paris authorities placed all schools, nurseries and care homes in the area on lockdown amid the rampage.
But Mr Darmanin admitted that police had underestimated the severity of the threat of attack around the site of the old offices of Charlie Hebdo
The former offices were also cordoned off after police found a suspicious package, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
Both victims are said to be in intensive care in a serious but not life threatening condition.
Employees at Premières Lignes were some of the first witnesses to the January 2015 attack as they were next door to Charlie Hebdo.
Staff famously shot video of the gunmen out in the street, and then went inside the Hebdo offices to help survivors.
After, yesterday's attack Mr Moreira, founder of the production company, said: "We were there during the Charlie Hebdo attack. We were among the first to enter the room, we had helped the survivors.
"We note that there is now the trial of the January 2015 attacks, and that it is the same building.
"There are people who think that it is still the premises of Charlie Hebdo."
Charlie Hebdo tweeted its "support and solidarity" to the news agency after the "heinous attack" at its old home.
PM Castex said: "This attack happened in a symbolic place at the time when the trial of the terrible attacks on Charlie Hebdo took place."
He added however the two victims appear to have selected "at random".
The national anti-terrorism prosecutor's office said it was investigating the case.
Co-workers of the two victims spoke of their horror as they saw their pals set upon with a meat cleaver.
A news agency worker said: "Two colleagues were smoking a cigarette at the bottom of the building.
"I heard screams and went to the window and saw one of my colleagues stained with blood, being followed by a man with a machete on the street."
Writer Hassani Erwan, 23, told AFP: "At around midday, we went to have lunch at a restaurant but as we were arriving, the owner started to cry 'leave, leave, there's an attack'.
"We immediately ran away and locked ourselves ourselves inside a shop with four other customers."
Another neighbour, who heard the attack, told Reuters there was a long, deathly shout from "a person who was screaming and screaming".
An office worker said: "I heard screams in the road. I looked out of the window and saw a woman who was lying on the floor and had taken a whack in the face from what was possibly a machete."
Witness Kader Alfa told AP: "I saw a guy that was in his 30s or 40s with an axe in his hand who was walking behind a victim covered in blood.
"I can't tell you how many victims there was, I just saw one."
Another witness added: "I saw a young woman with a huge head wound, blood was running all over her face."
A neighbour said: "It's starting again, the same fear there was five years ago, the same images in the street, it's heart-breaking."
"I feel like I'm reliving past horrors," said another resident of a neighbouring street.
"It's a never-ending nightmare."
Initial reports were unclear about the nature of the weapon, with it being described as an axe or machete before it was finally confirmed to be a meat cleaver.
City hall shut down metro lines in the area as a small army of cops searched for the suspects.
Pictures from the scene show firefighters helping to treat victims and huge numbers of armed police.
Soldiers are also seen rushing to the scene armed with assault rifles.
Other images show firemen appearing to be treating a victim inside a nearby building.
Castex cut short a visit to a suburb north of Paris to head to the Interior Ministry to follow developments – describing the attack as "very serious".
Deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire tweeted that police were hunting a "potentially dangerous" individual amid the manhunt.
Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France region of Paris, said: "Extremely shocked by the murderous attack near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, in a Paris arrondissement which has already paid a heavy price for violent terrorism.
"I give all my support to the authorities which are now tracking the perpetrator."
The attack was carried out as a trial takes place in Paris concerned with the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
Charlie Hebdo now publishes from a secret address in Paris, and many staff members have bodyguards.
The magazine marked the opening of the criminal trial by re-publishing the infamous cartoons mocking Muhammed.
Al-Qaeda once again threatened Charlie Hebdo after the publication, warning the attack was "not a one-off incident" in a message to its followers.
Critics said the publication had deliberately used blasphemy to stir up hatred against Muslims around the world.
The deeply incendiary images originally led to riots across the Muslim world when they were first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005.
Charlie Hebdo then published them in full in 2006, leading its writers and cartoonists to receive regular death threats.
Paris-born brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi then stormed the magazine's office and murdered 12 people using Kalashnikovs, before escaping in a stolen car.
Despite this, the latest Charlie Hebdo carries the cartoons on its front page, under the headline "All that for that".
The landmark trial has seen defendants facing a variety of charges including obtaining weapons and providing logistical support to the killers.
Three of the accused are being tried in absentia, as it is believed they went to fight for ISIS in Syria.
The Kouachi brothers died during a shootout with police at a printing office northwest of Paris two days after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
On January 8, Amédy Coulibaly shot dead a police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, in the Paris suburb of Montrouge.
The next day day, he took hostages at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Vincennes, executing store employee Yohan Cohen and customers Philippe Braham, François-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab before being killed in a police raid.
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