PARIS — France may have paid a deadly price for its military strikes against Islamist fundamentalists in Africa and the Middle East, after three men killed 10 journalists and two police officers here, Reuters television reported on Wednesday.

The three men armed with AK-47 assault rifles entered the office of weekly satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, or Charlie Weekly, shot dead the journalists and cartoonists, and killed the police officers as they fled the scene, French media reported.

"Islamist militants last year called for attacks on French citizens and interests as reprisal for French military strikes against Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa," Reuters television reported in the wake of the killings.

President François Hollande visited the newspaper's office and denounced the killings as "extreme barbarity.".

Prime Minister Manuel VWalls said in a statement the area around the capital is now under the highest security alert, and ordered extra troops and police to protect media offices, department stores, and places of worship.

Thousands of people spontaneously turned out a public square here, Place de la Republic, to show support for freedom of the press and the slain journalists.

Among official statements of support was one from President Barack Obama, who called France the US's oldest ally. UK Queen Elizabeth, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also sent messages of sympathy and support.

France is due to send the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle carrier out to the Arabian Gulf to support the allied airborne attacks against the Islamic State, or ISIS, maritime specialist website Met et Marine reported.

The carrier-borne Rafale and Super Etendard fighters could also be used to support the French Chammal operation against Islamist insurgents active in Iraq. France was the first European nation to support the US in airstrikes against Islamist rebels in Iraq last year.

The Charlie Hebdo paper has previously carried cartoons making which made light of Prophet Mohammad, as part of its editorial policy of attack on authority.


Article updated to specify Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

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