WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama condemned as an “attack on all of humanity” a wave of bombings and shootings in Paris that prompted increased security in New York and Washington.
“Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong,” Obama said in a hastily convened appearance before reporters at the White House, as the death toll surged past 120 and US sports venues ramped up security.
“We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberte, egalite, fraternite, are not just the values French people share, but we share,” he said, citing France’s national motto.
“Those go far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.”
The Department of Homeland Security reported there was “no specific or credible threat to the United States” in the wake of the attacks.
But authorities in New York and in the capital Washington — both hit in the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 — were placed on a heightened state of alert and counterterrorism police reinforcements deployed to crowded public places as a precautionary measure.
Units were also deployed to French-owned sites, such as the French mission to the United Nations and the French Consulate in New York.
The New York Police Department said its intelligence division was “conducting liaison activities to assist the Paris police in any way possible.”
One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere and built on the site of the Twin Towers, destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, lit its giant antenna in red, white and blue in tribute to France.
“Today, and in the days ahead, New York will light One World Trade Center in blue, white and red as we stand in solemn solidarity with the people of France,” state Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
“We join them in mourning those who were killed and in praying for those who were injured or lost loved ones. And we continue to stand side by side with them in our commitment to a free and peaceful world.”
The National Basketball Association also called on US arenas to go on heightened alert and enlist law enforcement for intelligence support.
“We do not have reason to believe the events in Paris are related to NBA, however, we cannot be too careful in ensuring we are taking proactive measures,” it said in a statement.
The Stade de France, where France were playing Germany in a friendly football match, was one of the targets in the string of attacks, where at least five people were killed in explosions.
Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande by telephone earlier on Friday to discuss his upcoming visit to Paris for climate change talks.
Obama said he had not immediately contacted Hollande again because the French president was busy responding to the crisis.
But Obama pledged to work with France to bring those responsible to justice.
“Whenever these kinds of attacks happen, we’ve always been able to count on the French people to stand with us. They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner,” Obama said.
“We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the government and people of France need to respond.
“It’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”
Obama also expressed his resolve in tackling terror.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.”
Vice President Joe Biden echoed that sentiment, saying “such savagery can never threaten who we are. We will respond. We will overcome. We will endure.”