Private Eye's Ian Hislop responds to Charlie Hebdo attack: 'Very little seems funny today'

Four of France’s most celebrated political cartoonists were among the 12 who died after gunmen stormed the French magazine office

Ian Hislop has issued a statement following the shooting dead of 12 people at the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Among the casualties were four of France’s most celebrated political cartoonists Jean Cabu, Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac and Bernard Maris.

“I am appalled and shocked by this horrific attack - a murderous attack on free speech in the heart of Europe,” the Private Eye editor wrote.

“I offer my condolences to the families and friends of those killed - the cartoonists, journalists and those who were trying to protect them.

“They paid a very high price for exercising their comic liberty.

“Very little seems funny today”

Witnesses said that at least two gunmen were involved in the attack, and that they were seen armed with AK-47s and pump-action shotguns.

The attackers are yet to have been tracked down by police.

Video footage posted to social media earlier showed the gunmen running through the streets of Paris, shooting with automatic weapons and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. According to an eye-witness, one of the men said: “The Prophet is avenged.”

Gerard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, who was in London at the time of the attack, said: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel have all condemned the “barbaric” killings and vowed to stand up for freedom of expression.

Little is yet known of the gunmen or their motivations.

Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011 after they published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Mohammed.

The magazine has been threatened on numerous occasions for publishing the religious cartoon caricatures.