Confusion in U.S. on status of magazine attack suspects, but the French are not afraid

NBC News reports: After a long day of rapidly changing information, US counterterrorism officials said Wednesday night that they cannot be certain what the status is of the three suspects in the Paris attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine. Information from French sources has been contradictory, they said.

Earlier Wednesday, two senior U.S. counterterrorism officials told NBC News that one of the suspects in the attack had been killed and that two others were in custody. However, the officials later said the information that was the basis of that account could not be confirmed.

Reuters reports: An 18-year old man sought by police over Wednesday’s shooting attack at satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo handed himself voluntarily to police in northeastern France, an official at the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Police are hunting three French nationals, including brothers Said Kouachi, born in 1980; Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982; and Hamyd Mourad born in 1996, after suspected Islamist gunmen killed 12 people.

The official, who declined to identify the man, said he had turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, in northeastern France at around 2300 GMT.

McClatchy reports: Security experts who viewed videos of the attack said the attackers clearly were professionals, likely with combat experience.

“They appear very calm during the attack. They’ve clearly handled weapons before. They know exactly what they’re doing, from the moment they arrive until they flee,” said terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, the research director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College.

Still, the attackers apparently were unfamiliar with their target, reportedly arriving first at the building where the newspaper’s archives are stored. Once they realized their error, the Agence France Press news agency reported, they moved a few doors down to the weekly’s headquarters.

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