Obama phones Canadian PM
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President Obama has spoken to Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper about the shooting in Ottawa, the White House said Wednesday.

The president first was told about the incident by his top homeland security aide, Lisa Monaco. Officials inside the U.S. government are keeping “in close touch with their Canadian counterparts,” the White House added.


The shooting reportedly began at the national war memorial and then reportedly progressed to the parliament building and a nearby shopping center.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said it’s too early to say whether the shooting is linked to Canada's decision earlier this month to join the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or if the incident was a terrorist attack.

"The details about the nature of this event are still sketchy, which is not unusual in a chaotic situation in one like this one," Earnest said.

More broadly, Earnest confirmed U.S. officials had been in touch with Canadian counterparts "over the past couple of months" over the possibility of domestic attacks by foreign fighters who had traveled to the Middle East and been radicalized by ISIS.

But the press secretary stressed that he was not making any conclusions about what had occurred in Canada.

"We're obviously in the very early stages of determining what happened here," Earnest said, noting, "Canadian authorities are still responding" to the shooting.

Earnest also said he was unaware of any U.S. agencies raising their terror threat status in the aftermath of the attack.

Details of the shooting incident remain unclear, but it appears that a soldier guarding the Canadian war memorial was seriously injured when a gunman shot him with a rifle. The gunman then apparently entered the parliament building, where he exchanged gunfire with police and was killed. According to reports, there could be additional gunman.

Earlier this week, a Canadian soldier was run over and killed by a man whom authorities suggest was a jihadist, prompting Ottawa to raise its terror alert level. The suspect, who was fatally shot by police, had been previously detained, when he sought to fly to Turkey, where many pro-ISIS fighters have crossed the border into Syria.

The White House said Obama extended his thoughts and prayers to the family of that soldier, as well as anyone affected by the Ottawa shootings.