A Charlie Hebdo designer told L’Humanité newspaper that the gunmen who attacked the satirical magazine Wednesday had accosted her downstairs and forced her to let them into the building.
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Twelve people, mostly members of the magazine's staff but also two policemen, were killed in the murderous attack.
"I had gone to pick up my daughter from daycare," said Corinne Rey, known as Coco. "Arriving at the door of the newspaper building, two hooded and armed men brutally threatened us."
"They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code. They shot Wolinski, Cabu ... it lasted five minutes ... I had taken refuge under a desk...
"They spoke French perfectly ... claiming to be Al-Qaida."
Other eyewitnesses said that the attackers had shouted “tell the media that we are from Al-Qaida in the Yemen” when they left the building, the Guardian reported.
One neighbor said she saw paramedics trying to save the injured police officer on the road outside her office.
"It was ghastly, awful. We knew it was serious because they weren’t even trying to take him away to hospital. They were just trying to save him right there in the street. We are all in shock."
“We heard shouting in the street,” said Benot Bringer, who works at a press agency on the same floor as the Charlie Hebdo offices. “We saw hooded men carrying Kalashnikovs entering the building. We called the police.
"After a few minutes we heard heavy firing – a lot of firing, a hell of a lot. We went upstairs to take shelter on the roof," Bringer told France Info radio. "Then after about 10 minutes we saw two armed men come out onto the street. There was more shouting, more firing.
“Three policemen had arrived on bikes but had to leave because the men were armed, obviously Then the attackers took off in a car.”
Another witness, who worked in an office across the corridor from the magazine, said: "Someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away. Afterwards he left, we heard gunfire.
"We went to the windows, there were two men running with guns, speaking in bad French They were shouting outside, and shooting again. Afterwards I saw someone leaving the building with his hands covered in blood.”