President Obama Addresses Paris Shooting
*Update 4:00 p.m. cst : Suspects in French Terror Attack have been identified.
President Barack Obama called Wednesday’s deadly shooting at a satirical newspaper in Paris “cowardly evil attacks” on journalists and a free press and vowed to help France pursue the terrorists who went on the run.
Obama said the attack that left 12 dead in France’s deadliest terror attack in at least two decades is a reminder that such tragedies can occur anywhere in the world. He promised to stay vigilant and “hunt down and bring the perpetrators of this specific act to justice, and to roll up the networks that help to advance these kinds of plots.”
“The fact that this was an attack on journalists, attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Obama said from the Oval Office during a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden.
“But the one thing that I’m very confident about is that the values that we share with the French people, a belief — a universal belief in the freedom of expression, is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few,” he added.
Obama later called French President Francois Hollande from Air Force One en route to Detroit, where he was kicking of a three-state tour to discuss priorities for his State of the Union address later this month. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling along that Obama expressed condolences to the French leader and offered assistance.
Three masked gunmen stormed the office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo at noon-time on Wednesday and then escaped in a car. Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other controversial sketches.
Witnesses said the shooters shouted “Allahu akbar!” in flawless, unaccented French. France raised its security alert to the highest level, as thousands honored the victims from Republique Square in Paris.
“What that beautiful city represents — the culture and the civilization that is so central to our imaginations — that’s going to endure,” Obama said. “And those who carry out senseless attacks against innocent civilians, ultimately they’ll be forgotten.”