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Twelve dead in shooting at Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris

Twelve people have been confirmed dead and at least five critically injured when masked gunmen entered the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo around midday local time.

Reports are still conflicted as to the details of the attack, but witnesses say that three hooded gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs entered the building in Paris' 11th arrondisement earlier today and opened fire on staff. The men then fled in a getaway car.

The death toll reportedly includes 10 journalists and two police officers. Images published on Twitter show bullet holes peppering a police car at the scene and emergency services attending to the casualties.

French President Fran├žois Hollande was quick to the scene, and issued a statement saying that France is "in a state of shock" following the attack. Hollande told journalists that the security level in Paris has been raised and that police are continuing to hunt the perpetrators.

The French cabinet is due to meet at 2pm today local time to discuss the attack.

Charlie Hebdo is not a stranger to controversy, and has not shied away from attacking Islam through satire and, some say, thinly veiled Islamophobia. The magazine's offices were destroyed by petrol bomb in November 2011 after it published an issue supposedly guest edited by the Prophet Muhammed and renamed "Charia Hebdo" (the French spelling of Sharia).

Despite receiving death threats to its staff and also having its website hacked over the same period, less than a year later it published more satirical images of the Prophet, including cartoons of him naked.

The offices of the magazine were under armed guard and security had been increased in recent weeks following increased death threats. But Rocco Conteno, a spokesman for the Unite police union said the attackers stormed the building intending to kill.

Museum, stations, shopping centres and other public places in central Paris have been placed under police protection, the Guardian reports. The French capital remains on high alert while the hunt for the attackers continues and the death toll is likely to rise further as more people succumb to their injuries.

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