Obama offers US help to pursue terrorists in French attack

Obama Condemns 'Cowardly, Evil' Attack in Paris

WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.

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.

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 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.

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