Obama condemns deadly Taliban attack

Obama condemns deadly Taliban attack
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President Obama condemned the attack Tuesday by Taliban gunmen on a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar that left 126 people dead, calling it "heinous."

"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan," Obama said in a statement from the White House.

He said the terrorists had "shown their depravity" by targeting students and teachers. 

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"We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region," Obama said.

According to local media reports, around a half dozen gunmen from Tehreek-e-Taliban, a militant group seeking to overthrow the Pakistani government, stormed the Army Public School. The majority of those killed and wounded in the attack were students at the academy, and there were reports that the Taliban fighters had taken additional children hostage. 

Schools and schoolchildren have been frequent targets of Taliban fighters within Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year, was shot by a gunman while boarding her school bus in the Pakistani district of Swat after speaking about her life under Taliban occupation.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while violent extremists depicted "their struggle as a struggle of Muslims against the Western world," Tuesday's events demonstrated that the largest number of victims shared the same faith.

He said the United States had offered assistance "through a variety of channels" and had offered to aid in any response to the attack.

He also said U.S. diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, were already working on the ground.

"I know that Ambassador Olson actually traveled with a senior Pakistani official to go donate blood at the Pakistani Red Crescent today," Earnest said. "That is emblematic of the kind of support that we here in the United States have for the people of Pakistan as they confront this terrible act of violence."

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLet's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster MORE said at a news conference in London that the news of the attack on a school in Pakistan is "devastating."

He said the students were "wiped away by Taliban assassins who serve a dark and almost medieval vision."

"The images are absolutely gut wrenching, young children carried away in ambulances, a teacher burned alive in front of the students, a house of learning turned into a house of unspeakable horror," he said. 

"We condemn it in the strongest terms possible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice." 

The attacks in Peshawar and a hostage situation in Sydney "underscore that threats locally are also threats globally" he said.  

Updated at 1:15 p.m.