Aftermath of terror attack on Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo
Aftermath of terror attack on Paris offices of Charlie HebdoReuters

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the African branch of the lethal terrorist group, warned France on Monday to expect new attacks over its “hostility to Islam”, and praised jihadists behind last week's Paris attacks.

"France is paying today the price of its aggression against Muslims and its hostile policy towards Islam," AQIM said in a statement posted on jihadist websites and quoted by AFP.

"As long as its soldiers occupy countries such as Mali and Central Africa and bombard our people in Syria and Iraq, and as long as its stupid media continues to undermine our prophet (Mohammed), France will expose itself to the worst," it threatened.

The jihadist group also paid tribute to the three gunmen behind the killing of 17 people in a three-day massacre last week in Paris that began with an attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The statement described them as "the soldiers of Islam" and "heroes of the battle of Paris".

Last week it was reported that one of the two brothers who carried out the attack on Charlie Hebdo recently spent time in Yemen associating with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen branch of the group.

Charlie Hebdo was targeted by Muslims long before last Wednesday’s attack, due to its publishing of cartoons seen as “insulting” Mohammed.

The magazine’s staff first started receiving death threats in 2006 when they republished cartoons by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, that had triggered violent riots in some Muslim countries.

The offices of the weekly were firebombed by suspected Islamists in 2011 when it published other cartoons making fun of Mohammed, causing no injuries.

As they left the scene of last week’s attack, the two gunmen declared that they had "avenged the Prophet Mohammed".

Meanwhile, Charlie Hebdo on Monday announced that the cover of its next issue, the first one since the attack, will a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed crying and holding up a "Je suis Charlie" sign, under the words: "All is forgiven".