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Obama calls for police reform after fatal shootings in US

US president Barack Obama has said in a speech in Warsaw that blacks in the US are twice more likely than whites to be shot by police. He added that police reform is needed to end the problem.

Speaking in the run-up to the NATO summit in Warsaw, Obama expressed his condolences with the families of the two victims of recent high-profile police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana.

"Many Americans feel it's because they're not being treated the same and that hurts," he said.

Alton Sterling, 37, was shot early on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as he struggled with two white police officers outside a convenience store. Police said he was armed. A day later another unarmed black man was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge.

"We can do better than this," Obama told reporters, adding that to be concerned about such things is "not to be against law enforcement," adding that reform of the police has been "too slow."

Obama said "all fair-minded Americans" should be concerned about the problem of frequent police shootings of black people. "But it's not just a black or Hispanic issue," the president added, although pointed to statistics showing disparities in how African-Americans and Hispanics are treated by police.

Obama said earlier on Facebook that it was clear the slayings were not isolated incidents. [These] are "symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve," Obama wrote in a Facebook post.

The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into Sterling's shooting.

jbh (AP, )

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