Amid great sadness and tension in France, calls for unity

The city of Paris is still on edge as police search for two men wanted in the attack on French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Gwen Ifill speaks with Mark Austin of Independent Television News about the scale of the manhunt and how Muslim leaders are responding the day after the shooting.

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    A short time ago, I spoke to Mark Austin of Independent Television News from Paris.

    Mark Austin, thank you so much for joining us. I know it's late there.

    What can you tell us tonight about the latest in the scope and the success, if any, of this manhunt?


    Well, no great success yet, but it's on a massive scale, I mean, hundreds of special forces, hundreds of armed police conducting a hunt about 50 or 60 miles northeast of Paris in northern France in a heavily wooded area of about, well, several thousand acres. So they have got a massive job, but it's thought that there the two brothers are hiding out.

    And it's thought that the police and special forces are tonight closing in, or at least that's the hope of many people here in France. And, of course, with darkness, the initiative could pass to the special forces with their infrared equipment, and it's believed that, as I say, they may be closing in tonight.


    Can you give us any sense of how people are reacting to this? We know that the suspects are on the loose. We know that a third suspect has turned himself in, but said he wasn't involved. Are people still on edge?


    People are very much on edge here in Paris and across parts.

    I think there was a feeling yesterday that this was a specifically targeted attack on this magazine behind me here, but today we have had more attacks. These two brothers are still on the loose. And I think there is a great sense of fear here and a real hope that these two men are caught.

    It's also very somber here, I have to tell you. I mean, we have been here all day just by this shrine here. And hundreds, thousands of people have come here during the day just to lay flowers, light candles. It's been a very moving experience, but a great sadness, but also it is still very much a country on edge tonight.


    Is there much tension in particular in the Muslim community?


    Well, it's interesting. I talk about people coming to this shrine today. There was a visit by a number of Muslim leaders today who laid their own flowers, who said their own prayers, because they believe that this was an attack that wasn't in their name and not in Islam's name.

    And I spent some time today in the Muslim quarter here, and that is a belief shared by thousands of Muslims here. We spoke to a number of people, young students who say this is not in their name and they want nothing to do with it and they want unity and they want togetherness. There are some six million Muslims in France and they have to get on.

    And I think there's a real sense here that the fabric of this country is being tested like seldom before, and there are calls tonight for unity and togetherness.


    Well, Mark Austin, we can only hope that that actually holds. From Independent Television News, thank you very much.

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