Obama Calls Deadly Shooting at French Newspaper 'Cowardly' and 'Evil'

The president promised on Wednesday to provide France with counterterrorism assistance following a shooting spree that killed 12 people in Paris.

The White House press secretary said this morning that the United States condemns the deadly shooting at the offices of a French newspaper on Wednesday in the "strongest possible terms." This afternoon, President Obama made some of those terms clear.

"For us to see the kind of cowardly, evil attacks that took place today reinforces once again why it's so important for us to stand in solidarity with [France] just as they stand in solidarity with us," the president said Wednesday afternoon before meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Two masked gunmen on Wednesday morning entered the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French weekly newspaper, and opened fire. Ten newspaper employees were killed, and two police officers were killed in a later confrontation with shooters. French police are looking for the gunmen, who remain at large.

French and U.S. officials have called the shooting a terrorist attack. In his brief remarks, Obama offered to work with France on counterterrorism measures, saying, "We will provide them with every bit of assistance that we can going forward."

Obama said he had not yet spoken to French President François Hollande.

Kerry condemned the "murderous" attack in an earlier statement and told the French people "each and every American stands with you today." Kerry called the slain journalists "martyrs for liberty," echoing the words of a French imam earlier that day.

Obama suggested that the shooting was an attack on press freedom. "The values we share with the French people are a universal belief—freedom of expression is something that can't be silenced because of the senseless violence," he said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called the attack "a brazen assault on free expression in the heart of Europe." "The scale of the violence is appalling," said Robert Mahoney, the deputy director of the New York-based organization. "Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand."

The American Embassy in Paris expressed its support on Twitter by changing its avatar on the social network to a widely shared image that reads "Je suis Charlie," which translates to "I am Charlie." It announced that the U.S. would not shut down diplomatic activities in France following the attack.