Paris shooting: Three million copies of Charlie Hebdo available on Wednesday

PARIS (AFP) - Three million copies of Wednesday's first post-attack issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will be made available on newsstands, distributors MLP said on Monday.

MLP had initially planned to print one million copies of an issue currently being put together by survivors of last week's shooting at the magazine's offices, but said demand from France and abroad has been huge.

The original paper printed at 60,000 copies a week, selling 30,000.

Twelve people, including the top editor and some of France's most prominent cartoonists, were gunned down when two gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo's central Paris offices on Jan 7.

With its headquarters still a crime scene, remaining staff are working out of the offices of daily newspaper Liberation with equipment loaned by the Le Monde daily and cash handed out by other French and even foreign media.

This week's huge print run is an act of defiance for the long-established satirical weekly which repeatedly provoked Muslim ire by publishing cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad, but has just as often ridiculed the Roman Catholic Church.

With the attacks the magazine has become a national symbol of free speech. Huge crowds, including 1.5 million in Paris in the biggest rally in French history, took to the streets Sunday, many carrying signs saying: "Je suis Charlie".