Thousands gather across France to show support for 12 people slaughtered by 'Al Qaeda' gunmen in attack on Paris magazine #JeSuisCharlie

At least 100,000 people gathered across France tonight to back an anti-Islamist newspaper whose offices were devastated by a deadly terrorist attack.

Suspected Al Qaeda militants massacred 12 people in Paris today - and among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.

Masked attackers brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name.

Clad all in black with hoods and speaking French, the militants forced one of the cartoonists - at the office with her young daughter - to open the door.

Witnesses said the gunmen shouted 'we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen', and 'Allahu akbar!' - Arabic for 'God is great' - as they stalked the building.

They were also said to have yelled 'the Prophet has been avenged', during what was France's deadliest post-war terrorist attack.

The attackers headed straight for the paper's editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard.

The security had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed.

A year later, Mr Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: 'I would rather die standing than live kneeling.'

The militants also killed three other renowned cartoonists – men who had regularly satirised Islam – and the newspaper's deputy chief editor.

Despite a shoot-out with armed officers, the gunmen escaped in a hijacked car and remained on the loose this evening.

This left the French capital in virtual lockdown as police and soldiers flooded the streets to join the search.

Credit: Daily Mail