France - United States

Hollande, other European leaders appalled by Connecticut school massacre

Reuters/Noah Berger

French President François Hollande sent condolences to US President Barack Obama over the shooting of 20 small children and six teachers in a Connecticut school on Friday. Other European leaders also expressed their horror at the massacre and even Iran sent a message of sympathy to the victims’ families.


Describing the shootings as “appalling”, Hollande told Obama that he had been “horrified” and that he wished “express my deep shock and consternation".

“In this painful moment I address my sorrowful condolences to you, on my own behalf and of the French people,” his message said.

Other European reactions included:

  • Germany’s Angela Merkel declared herself “deeply saddened”;
  • European Union diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton expressed "shock" at the "tragic shooting";
  • The head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, spoke of his "deep shock and horror”;
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron said he "was shocked and deeply saddened”;
  • In a message to Obama Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in which she said that "the thoughts and prayers of everyone in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth are with the families and friends of those killed”;
  • Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter of condolence to the community, which was read aloud at a vigil in Newtown Friday evening.

And Iran offered its condolences, foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast drawing a parallel with "children and teenagers who fall victim to armed actions... inside Gaza, the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran or Syria," calling on Americans to mobilize against "warmongering and the massacre of innocent people anywhere."

There were almost no non-fatal injuries in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, indicating that once targeted, there was little chance of escape, and that the gunman, who is believed to be 20-year-old Adam Lanza, was unusually accurate or methodical in his fire.

Obama himself made an emotional statement about the massacre in which he called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics".

The killings revive the debate over gun control in the United States, as have previous massacres at schools and other public places in the country.

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