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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned a "horrific attack" on a Pakistani school that killed more than 100 children, as U.S. officials offered assistance in responding to the terrorist shooting.
Taliban gunmen stormed the Army Public School on Tuesday morning in the worst attack in Pakistan in years. Most of the victims were students in the first through 10th grades.
"By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity," Obama said in a brief written statement. "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."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said U.S. officials have been in touch through a variety of channels to offer help, while declining to offer specifics.
"The depraved decision that one has to make to storm a school with innocent children and open fire on them, I think is a testament to how cold blooded these extremists are," Earnest told reporters at the White House. "Many of these extremists like to characterize their struggle as a struggle of Muslims against the Western world. But that clearly is not true if the largest of number of victims that we're seeing are actually Muslims. And that makes the situation all the more heartbreaking and all the more tragic."
The attack comes as the U.S. and NATO troops this month end their combat mission in neighboring Afghanistan, 13 years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime for harboring those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Taliban fighters have been waging attacks across Afghanistan as well, and some U.S. forces will be deployed to train and advise Afghan security forces to combat the threat.
"Our involvement in these areas will continue and will endure, because it's in the best interest of the American people and our national security," Earnest said. "What will change, however, is the kind of military footprint that's been in place in Afghanistan for more than 13 years now."
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