Dallas shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson
Dallas shooter, Micah Xavier JohnsonFacebook screenshot

President Barack Obama and likely 2016 presidential contenders Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton condemned the racially-motivated shooting attacks which left five Dallas law enforcement agents dead and nine wounded.

Obama, who was in the midst of a state trip to Europe at the time of the attack said he was “horrified” by the “vicious, calculated, and despicable attack on law enforcement”.

"There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement," the president said in Poland. "Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done."

The president added that he hoped the killings would inspire greater support for new gun control legislation, which he has consistently advocated since assuming the office in 2009.

“I want to start moving on constructive actions that are actually going to make a difference,” Obama said.

The perpetrator of the deadly shootings in Dallas is Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year old Army reservist who served in Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014.

Police say Johnson, who lived with his mother at the time of the attack, had an interest in black nationalist and supremacist organizations, but had no criminal record. Johnson was reportedly upset over the recent deaths of two African American men killed by police in separate incidents last week in Minnesota and Louisiana.

Dallas police chief David Brown said Johnson expressed a desire to “kill white people”, and that he specifically targeted white police officers who were deployed to a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration.

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump expressed both shock and outrage at the attack, saying that it had "shaken the soul of our nation" and called for “law and order”.

"A brutal attack on our police force is an attack on our country, and an attack on our families. We must stand in solidarity with law enforcement, which we must remember is the force between civilization and total chaos. Every American has the right to live in safety and peace."

The New York real estate mogul and former reality television star also noted the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the two African American men killed in Louisiana and Minnesota respectively, saying that there was “much work we have to do in order to make every American feel that their safety is protected.” Trump called the two men’s deaths “senseless, tragic”.

Race relations, said Trump, had “gotten worse, not better” under Obama.

Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton called the shootings “absolutely horrific”, and said they were a sign Americans have to “do much more to listen to one another, to respect each other”.

“I thought we were on the right track. Somehow we’ve veered off of it in recent years,” Clinton told CNN.

Just hours after the deadly attack, copycat shootings targeting police were reported, including an incident in Missouri which left a St. Louis-area officer “fighting for his life”, the Ballwin, Missouri police chief told reporters on Saturday.