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At least four people are stabbed near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris

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At least four people, including two journalists, have been brutally stabbed with a meat cleaver on the same street as the former offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Two victims are fighting for their lives after the brutal attack which was carried out in broad daylight on Friday. 

Police have arrested two men after they were spotted with blood on their clothes near the Opera Bastille. 

Two of the victims have been confirmed as a man and a woman who are employees of Premieres Lignes, a French news and video agency

The pair work in the production team for the company which has released a number of documentaries and previously won a Pulitzer Prize for work on the Panama Papers investigation. 

Prosecutors are investigating whether the attackers had links to terrorist groups. 

It comes five years after the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks on the same road which saw 12 killed, and it also comes amid a trial into 14 suspects who allegedly helped plot the attack, which was suspended on Friday in the wake of the latest stabbings.

At least four people have been stabbed close to the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris

Two of the victims are in ‘an extremely bad way’, said an investigating source, following the attacks on Friday afternoon

Forensic experts work at the scene after the rampage which has left two in a criticial condition

Two men have been arrested after they were spotted with blood on their clothes near the attack

Two of the victims have been confirmed as a man and a woman who are employees of Premieres Lignes, a French news and video agency 

Two of the victims are in ‘an extremely bad way’, said an investigating source, following the attacks on Friday afternoon. 

A witness from the production company said she saw the attack being carried out.

She told AFP: ‘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.’  

It is unclear what motivated the attack or whether it had any link to Charlie Hebdo, which moved offices after they were attacked by Islamic extremists in 2015.

Jean Castex, France’s prime minister, attended the scene, which he described as ‘a very serious attack’ involving a man with a meat cleaver. 

French soldiers rush to the scene after people were injured following the attack by a man wielding a knife

Witnesses said two of the victims were having a cigarette break outside their office when the attack took place

Witness 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.’

Richard Lenoir, who lives on the street, told Le Parisien: ‘It’s starting again, the same fear there was five years ago, the same images in the street, it’s heart-breaking.’ 

Charlie Hebdo (former offices pictured) now publishes from a secret address in Paris, and many staff members have bodyguards

Police said there was ‘extreme concern’ today that those responsible for the stabbings might strike again

Police said there was ‘extreme concern’ today that those responsible for the stabbings might strike again. 

Local schools in the 3rd, 4th and 11th arrondissements have been shut down, and people are being advised to stay in their offices and homes.

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.’

Charlie Hebdo now publishes from a secret address in Paris, and many staff members have bodyguards.

Local schools in the 3rd, 4th and 11th arrondissements have been shut down, and people are being advised to stay in their offices and homes

It comes as a trial takes place in the French capital concerned with the January 2015 attacks that shocked the world after 12 people died.

Their primary targets were staff at the satirical magazine which had published a series of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed.

The principal terrorists – who were all known to the French security services – were all gunned down by police themselves, but 14 defendants are currently on trial facing life in prison for ‘complicity in terrorism’.

Friday’s attack took place close to the old Charlie Hebdo offices, which were attacked by Paris-born brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi in 2015. 

An armed police officer stands at the scene of the horrific stabbings as two fight for their lives after the attack

A large police presence was seen immediately after the stabbings as schools and the Metro were shut down

Two of the victims have been confirmed as a man and a women who are employees of Premieres Lignes, a French news and video agency

It marked the opening of the criminal trial by re-publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed.

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.

This led up to the atrocities of 2015, when the Kouachis stormed into their offices and opened fire.

Police and emergency vehicles are pictured at the scene after the gun rampage at the Charlie Hebdo offices in 2015 which left 12 people dead  

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 Islamic State 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. 

Those currently on trial range in age from 29 to 68, and are charged with providing logistics to the terrorists, including cash, weapons and vehicles.

The Kouachi brothers, Cherif (left) and Said (right), entered Charlie Hebdo’s premises and carried out the brutal attack five years ago

Among three defendants being tried in their absence is Hayat Boumeddienne, 32, who is known as ‘France’s Most Wanted Woman’ .

She is also said to have provided logistical support to the three Islamist killers, one of whom was her boyfriend, 32-year-old Amédy.

Coulibaly gunned down four shoppers in a kosher supermarket and a policewoman during the three days of carnage.

Boumeddienne, a self-styled ISIS fanatic, is still on the run, and was last said to have been spotted in a Syrian refugee camp last year.

This court sketch shows the fourteen accused and their lawyers at the opening of the trial of the accomplices in jihadist killings in 2015

‘A warrant is out for her arrest,’ said a prosecuting source. ‘It has been claimed that she is dead, but intelligence placed her in the town of Al-Hawl in the summer of 2019.

‘The camp is made up of thousands of women and children, including many dislodged from the ISIS caliphate.’

Boumeddienne’s DNA was found on guns being stored by Coulibaly, while prosecutors say she also made more than 500 phone calls to the home of Cherif Kouachi in the run-up to the attacks.

She gave an interview to an ISIS propaganda outlet in late 2015, saying: ‘May France be cursed by Allah’.

Two other key defendants in the Paris trial are Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine –brothers who left for the Iraqi-Syrian war zone shortly after the Hebdo attacks, and who are now presumed dead.

A message of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo – containing the popular slogan ‘je suis Charlie’ (meaning ‘I am Charlie’) – is laid out in Paris after the attack in 2015 

Both ISIS and Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 2015 attacks, which were the beginning of a wave of terrorism across France.

Another defendant is Willy Prévost, a close friend of Coulibaly, who is said to have provided vehicles including a car.

The others on trial are Nezar Mickael, Pastor Alwatik, Amar Ramdan, Said Makhlouf, Mohamed-Amine Fares, Michel Catino, Abdelaziz Abbad, Miguel Martinez and Metin Karasular.

All are accused of providing varying levels of support to the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly.

The trial is being presided over by five specialised terrorism magistrates, headed by Judge Régis de Jorna.

The entire process will be filmed so that a record can be placed in France’s National Archive, but the images will not be broadcast live.

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