Charlie Hebdo is written near flowers and candles left at the Place de la Republique at midday in solidarity with victims of yesterday's terrorist attack on January 8, 2015 in Paris, France. Photo: Getty Images
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Charlie Hebdo: what we know so far

Police in France are still tracking the three men responsible for killing 12 people yesterday at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Mass vigils are held around the world.

Police are still attempting to track down the three suspects believed to be responsible for yesterday's attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Meanwhile, people and organisations around the world have condemned the murder of 12 people, with many cities seeing spontaneous vigils where pens were held aloft in celebration of the right to satire and free speech.

French police have released the names of the 12 victims from the attack. They are:

  • Frédéric Boisseau, maintenance worker
  • Franck Brinsolaro, police officer
  • Jean "Cabu" Cabut, cartoonist
  • Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, editor-in-chief
  • Elsa Cayat, psychoanalyst and columnist
  • Philippe Honoré, cartoonist
  • Bernard Maris, economist and shareholder in Charlie Hebdo magazine
  • Ahmed Merabet, policeman
  • Moustapha Ourad, proofreader
  • Michel Renaud, festival organiser
  • Georges Wolinski, cartoonist
  • Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, cartoonist

Clockwise, from top left: Jean "Cabu" Cabut, Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski. Photo: Getty Images

The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo have said that they intend to print the magazine as normal next week, with an estimated print run of a million copies (compared to a usual run of around 60,000). The Guardian reports writer Patrick Pelloux saying that "stupidity will not win". Google has donated 250,000 to the magazine, while the staff have accepted an invitation from Libération magazine to use their office for work.

Three suspects have been named by French police: brothers Saïd Kouachi (32) and Chérif Kouachi (34), who are alleged to have carried out the attack, and 18-year-old Hamyd Moura, who was named as the driver of the getaway car. However, Moura reportedly handed himself into police immediately, with classmates claiming he was in school with them throughout the day of the shooting. At the time of writing, police are going door-to-door through the village of Corcy, northeast of Paris, believing the two brothers to be hiding somewhere in the area.

Reactions from around the world to the attacks have ranged from shocked to defiant. Many major cities, including London, Berlin, Moscow, Tunis and Rio de Janeiro, saw main squares and streets filled with candlelit vigils - and many people have stood while holding pens or pencils aloft, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims:

A vigil in Lyons. Photo: Getty Images

The vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

Cartoonists from every corner of the planet have also responded to the events in Paris yesterday.

However, there have already been several reprisal attacks reported by AFP against mosques across France. Early this morning a street cleaner and a police officer were also both shot in southern Paris, with police treating it as related to yesterday's attack.

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The conflict in Yemen is a civil war by numbers

Amid the battles, a generation starves.

Ten thousand dead – a conservative estimate at best. Three million internally displaced. Twenty million in need of aid. Two hundred thousand besieged for over a year. Thirty-four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia. More than 140 mourners killed in a double-tap strike on a funeral. These are just some of the numerical subscripts of the war in Yemen.

The British government would probably prefer to draw attention to the money being spent on aid in Yemen – £37m extra, according to figures released by the Department for International Development in September – rather than the £3.3bn worth of arms that the UK licensed for sale to Saudi Arabia in the first year of the kingdom’s bombing campaign against one of the poorest nations in the Middle East.

Yet, on the ground, the numbers are meaningless. What they do not show is how the conflict is tearing Yemeni society apart. Nor do they account for the deaths from disease and starvation caused by the hindering of food imports and medical supplies – siege tactics used by both sides – and for the appropriation of aid for financial gain.

Since the war began in March 2015 I have travelled more than 2,500 miles across Yemen, criss-crossing the front lines in and out of territories controlled by Houthi rebels, or by their opponents, the Saudi-backed resistance forces, or through vast stretches of land held by al-Qaeda. On those journeys, what struck me most was the deepening resentment expressed by so many people towards their fellow Yemenis.

The object of that loathing can change in the space of a few hundred metres. The soundtrack to this hatred emanates from smartphones resting on rusting oil drums, protruding from the breast pockets of military fatigues, or lying on chairs under makeshift awnings where flags denote the beginning of the dead ground of no-man’s-land. The rabble-rousing propaganda songs preach to the watchful gunmen about a feeble and irreligious enemy backed by foreign powers. Down the road, an almost identical scene awaits, only the flag is different and the song, though echoing the same sentiment, chants of an opponent altogether different from the one decried barely out of earshot in the dust behind you.

“We hate them. They hate us. We kill each other. Who wins?” mused a fellow passenger on one of my trips as he pressed green leaves of the mildly narcotic khat plant into his mouth.

Mohammed was a friend of a friend who helped to smuggle me – dressed in the all-black, face-covering garb of a Yemeni woman – across front lines into the besieged enclave of Taiz. “We lose everything,” he said. “They win. They always win.” He gesticulated as he spoke of these invisible yet omnipresent powers: Yemen’s political elite and the foreign states entangled in his country’s conflict.

This promotion of hatred, creating what are likely to be irreversible divisions, is necessary for the war’s belligerents in order to incite tens of thousands to fight. It is essential to perpetuate the cycle of revenge unleashed by the territorial advances in 2014 and 2015 by Houthi rebels and the forces of their patron, the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. This demand for retribution is matched by those who are now seeking vengeance for the lives lost in a UK-supported, Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign.

More than 25 years after the two states of North and South Yemen united, the gulf between them has never been wider. The political south, now controlled by forces aligned with the Saudi-led coalition, is logistically as well as politically severed from the north-western territories under the command of the Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists. Caught in the middle is the city of Taiz, which is steadily being reduced to rubble after a year-long siege imposed by the Houthi-Saleh forces.

Revenge nourishes the violence, but it cannot feed those who are dying from malnutrition. Blowing in the sandy wind on roadsides up and down the country are tattered tents that hundreds of thousands of displaced families now call home. Others have fled from the cities and towns affected by the conflict to remote but safer village areas. There, food and medical care are scarce.

The acute child malnutrition reported in urban hospitals remains largely hidden in these isolated villages, far from tarmac roads, beyond the reach of international aid agencies. On my road trips across Yemen, a journey that would normally take 45 minutes on asphalt could take five hours on tracks across scrubland and rock, climbing mountainsides and descending into valleys where bridges stand useless, snapped in half by air strikes.

Among the other statistics are the missing millions needed by the state – the country’s largest employer. Workers haven’t been paid in months, amid fears of an economic collapse. This is apparently a deliberate tactic of fiscal strangulation by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government-in-exile. The recent relocation of the central bank from the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a, to the southern city of Aden is so far proving symbolic, given that the institution remains devoid of funds. The workforce on both sides of the conflict has taken to the streets to protest against salaries being overdue.

Following the deaths of more than 140 people in Saudi-led air strikes on a funeral hall on 8 October, Saleh and the Houthi leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, called for yet more revenge. Within hours, ballistic missiles were fired from within Houthi territory, reaching up to 350 miles into Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in the Red Sea, Houthi missile attacks on US warships resulted in retaliation, sucking the US further into the mire. Hours later, Iran announced its intention to deploy naval vessels in the area.

Vengeance continues to drive the violence in Yemen, which is being drawn ever closer to proxy conflicts being fought elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet the impact on Yemeni society and the consequences for the population’s health for generations to come are unlikely to appear to the outside world, not even as annotated numbers in the brief glimpses we get of this war. 

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood