French counter-terrorism specialists believed to be from Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) staged for a potential assault in Paris today after a female French police officer was shot at by a pair of men wielding Kalashnikov-pattern rifles, according to the U.K. Independent:
A female police officer has reportedly died of her injuries after she and a colleague were shot in southern Paris this morning, less than 24 hours after the gun attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two men with assault rifles shot at the two local police officers after their car was involved in a road accident. One of the gunmen was reported to have been arrested. The other fled.
A convoy of heavily armed counter-terrorism police arrived at the scene of the shooting shortly before 11am local time.
Around 30 balaclava-clad officers from the specialist Raid force arrived in five vehicles, including an armoured lorry.
Police sources at the scene said the shooter in the incident which left one female police officer dead had fled on foot, suggesting he may still be nearby.
Sources speaking to Sky News described a single assailant, armed with a handgun, and say that the second person shot was not a police officer, but a city employee.
Regardless of the number of suspects or the exact composition of their weaponry, we do know that two people are down and that the female police officer has died as a result of her injuries, and that the (presumed GIGN) counter-terrrorists are heavily armed and armored as they prepare to sweep the area.
The authorities are being very careful not to specifically link today’s shooting to yesterday’s terrorist attack on the offices of left-wing satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead and another dozen injured, as it is possible that this attack was unrelated.
French authorities quickly named two French nationals with connections to al Qaeda in Yemen as the two triggerman in yesterday’s terror attack, and also identified a 18-year-old accomplice who turned himself in to authorities after he was named. He was said to be in school at the time of the attacks.
The two terrorists, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, are on the run. They were identified as possible suspects in a gas station robbery in the town of Villers-Cotteret, northeast of Paris, that is also seeing a massive police response.
There are—as is so often the case after an attack—dozens of false sightings of suspects that police are also attempting to rule out.
Cherif Kouachi had previously spent time in prison for recruiting terrorists in France to fight in the Middle East, and both of the terrorist brothers are suspected of having spent time in combat fighting for al Qaeda.
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Predictably—and not without merit—critics of France’s lack of a right to bear arms were quick to point out that the many people who filmed yesterday’s brazen attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo had vantage points where they could have easily taken on the Kouachi brothers if they were equipped with firearms.
France is a nation with a history of revolts and revolutions. It has heavily restricted the number and type of firearms and amount of ammunition civilians may have as a political matter, fearing that an armed citizenry might result in yet another French revolution. Put bluntly, the French government does not trust their citizenry to bear arms, and citizens are helpless to help themselves, law enforcement, or their greater society as a result.
Experts predict that it is only a matter of time before there is a similar terror attack against soft targets in the United States, carried out by terrorists from any one of a half-dozen terror groups that have infiltrated strike teams over the nearly undefended southern border with Mexico in the last decade. The key difference is that counter-terrorism experts in the United States hope American civilians to be able to augment local law enforcement when such attacks take place.