Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo (Agence France-Presse)
Seven people have been detained in the hunt for brothers suspected of gunning down 12 people in an Islamist assault on a satirical weekly, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Thursday.
The masked, black-clad gunmen burst into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday morning, killing some of France's most outspoken journalists and two policemen, before jumping into a car and escaping.
They are still on the run, and authorities have warned they are "armed and dangerous."
"Seven people," Cazeneuve said on French radio when asked how many people were currently being held and questioned over the attack -- the bloodiest in France in half a century.
A judicial source, who refused to be named, added that those who were being questioned are men and women who are close to the suspects, without saying where they had been detained.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls meanwhile told RTL radio that the two suspects were known to intelligence services and were "no doubt" being followed before Wednesday's attack.
They have been identified as Cherif Kouachi, 32, a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for involvement in a network sending fighters to Iraq, and his 34-year-old brother Said. Both were born in Paris.
The massacre triggered an outpouring of solidarity around the world, with outraged people from Moscow to Washington rallying in their tens of thousands under the banner "I am Charlie", in support of press freedom and the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine.