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French shooting suspects ‘spotted’

PARIS: French anti-terrorism police converged on an area northeast of Paris on Thursday after two brothers suspected of being behind an attack on a satirical newspaper were spotted at a petrol station in the region.
France’s prime minister said on Thursday he feared the militants who killed 12 people could strike again as a manhunt for two men widened across the country. Two police sources said that the men were seen armed and wearing cagoules in a Renault Clio car at a petrol station on a secondary road in Villers-Cotterets some 70 km from the French capital.
Amid French media reports the men had abandoned their car, Bruno Fortier, the mayor of neighboring Crépy-en-Valois, said helicopters were circling his town and police and anti-terrorism forces were deploying en masse.
“It’s an incessant waltz of police cars and trucks,” he told Reuters, adding that he could not confirm reports the men were holed up in a house in the area.
A policewoman was killed in a shootout in Paris earlier Thursday. A man, who wore a bullet-proof vest and carried a handgun and automatic rifle, was still on the run after committing the attack in Montrouge just south of Paris, which prosecutors said they were treating as a terror act.
Montrouge Mayor Jean-Loup Metton said the policewoman and a colleague were attending a reported traffic accident when Thursday’s shooting occurred.
Many European newspapers either re-published Charlie Hebdo cartoons or mocked the killers with images of their own.
Late Wednesday, an 18-year-old man turned himself into police in Charleville-Mézières near the Belgian border as police carried out searches in Paris and the northeastern cities of Reims and Strasbourg. A legal source said he was the brother-in-law of one of the main suspects and French media quoted friends as saying he was in school at the moment of the attack.
Meanwhile, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a US organization that “defends the rights of Catholics,” issued a statement titled “Muslims are right to be angry.”
In it, Donohue criticized the publication’s history of offending the world’s religiously devout, including non-Muslims. The murdered Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier “didn’t understand the role he played in his (own) tragic death,” the statement reads.
“Had (Charbonnier) not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive,” Donohue says, in what must be one of the more offensive and insensitive comments made on that tragic day.
“Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated,” says Donohue. “But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.”
The statement says Charlie Hebdo has “a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning” of religious figures.
The statement ends with a quote from US founding father James Madison: “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as by the abuses of power.”