Thursday 23 March 2017

Gunman kills two US airmen in bus attack outside airport

Alex Spillius in Washington

Two members of the United States air force were shot dead and another two wounded in an attack by a gunman on an American military bus at Frankfurt Airport.

Arif Uka, a 21 year-old Muslim from Kosovo, was arrested after the shooting outside the airport's Terminal 2. He was reportedly armed with an automatic weapon and a knife.

The bus driver and a passenger were killed, and one suffered serious wounds and another light injuries. An air force spokesman said police had the suspect in custody.

All four men were based at Lakenheath airfield in Suffolk, England, the home to the 48th Fighter Wing, America's only F-15 fighter wing in Europe.

US President Barack Obama said he was "saddened and outraged" by the attack and promised a full investigation.

"Michelle and I have their family and friends in our prayers, and we are praying for a speedy recovery for those who were injured," he said.

"We will spare no effort in learning how this outrageous act took place. We will be working with German authorities to ensure that all the perpetrators are brought to justice."

Boris Rhein, interior minister for the German state of Hesse, said it was not clear if the attack was linked to terrorism, after representative Patrick Meehan, a member of the US homeland security committee, had announced that it looked like a terrorist attack.

The gunman comes from the town of Mitrovica, in the north of the Balkan territory that declared independence from Serbia in 2008. During Kosovo's war for independence from the former Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, there were reported links between Osama bin Laden and the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, which had the support of Western powers.

Condemned

The territory's declaration of independence was endorsed by the US, which has had troops in Kosovo since 1999.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the "terrible incident", and said: "We'll do everything possible to find out what happened."

Bajram Rexhepi, Kosovo's interior minister, said: "This is a tragic event. We are trying to find out was this something that was organised or what was the nature of the attack."

Soldiers regularly use Frankfurt Airport to fly between bases in Germany and the US. American air force missions to Afghanistan and Iraq are flown from bases in the region.

Meanwhile, General David Petraeus, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, apologised for the death of nine civilians in a coalition air strike.

"We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologise to the members of the government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions," he said.

"These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologise to President Karzai."

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said nine children died in the strike on Tuesday as they collected firewood in the north-eastern Kunar province.

Nato said the air strike was ordered after an insurgent rocket attack on a military base prompted coalition forces to retaliate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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