A national day of mourning was observed in France Thursday, a day after the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that resulted in the killing of 12 people. The country observed a minute of silence at noon local time, with many people standing silently in public squares and outside buildings, according to Sky News.

In a televised address to the country late Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande declared Thursday a day of mourning, only the fifth time in the last 50 years that such an observance was marked in France, said Deutsche-Welle. The leader said that unity was France’s “best weapon” against barbarity. "Nothing can divide us, nothing should separate us. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity," he said. Hollande ordered flags across the country to fly at half-mast for three days.


Gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo, which gained worldwide attention for its satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and killed four members of the magazine’s staff as well as two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor. A nationwide manhunt is currently underway for two of the suspects. A third suspect in the killing, identified as Mourad Hamyd, turned himself in to police late Wednesday.

The bells of churches across the country, including Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, tolled after Wednesday’s minute of silence.


Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of cities across France Wednesday evening, with a candlelight vigil taking place at Paris’ Place de la Republique, according to the Washington Post. Many held signs with the words “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) to show solidarity with the attack’s victims. Others also used slogans such as “press freedom has no price” and “Charb mort libre” (Charb died free), in reference to Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was one of the four cartoonists shot dead in the attack.

2015-01-08T125011Z_1986417259_PM1EB1810K101_RTRMADP_3_FRANCE-SHOOTING People gather at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris January 8, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/ Youssef Boudlal

2015-01-08T123608Z_1201867006_PM1EB1811HJ01_RTRMADP_3_FRANCE-SHOOTING A citizen holds a placard which reads "I am Charlie" as he gathers in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris January 8, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen


2015-01-08T123018Z_960075410_PM1EB1810FI01_RTRMADP_3_FRANCE-SHOOTING French President Francois Hollande (C), Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve (2ndL), Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (L) and Paris police prefect Bernard Boucault (R) stands for a minute of silence at Paris Prefecture in Paris, January 8, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Remy de la Mauviniere/Pool