Obama: Paris shooting a cowardly attack on journalists
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered U.S. assistance to pursue the terrorists responsible for a "horrific shooting" at a satirical weekly newspaper that left 12 people dead.
In a statement, Obama condemned the shooting and offered thoughts and prayers for the people of France, which he called "America's oldest ally."
"France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers," Obama said.
Obama planned to speak later to reporters from the Oval Office during a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
Masked gunmen stormed the office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and then escaped. It is France's deadliest terror attack in at least two decades. Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other controversial sketches.
Shortly after Obama's statement was released, Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in both English and French, said every American stands with France today.
"I would like to say directly to the people of Paris and of all of France that each and every American stands with you today - not just in horror or in anger or in outrage at this vicious act of violence - but we stand with you in solidarity and in commitment both to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause which the extremists fear so much," he said.
In earlier television interviews, Obama press secretary Josh Earnest cautioned that the attack was still in the initial stages of investigation.
"We're at the very early stages of what happened and who was responsible," Earnest said. He said it is known that there are "strong ties" between the al Qaida terrorist network and the Islamic State extremists.
"We obviously are trying to monitor what we consider to be a very important threat," he said.
"This is an attack on the basic freedoms of freedom of speech and freedom of the press," Earnest said. He appeared in interviews on CNN and MSNBC.