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Americas

US army major shoots 13 dead and injures 30 at Texas military base

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-06

A US army major has killed 13 people and wounded 30 others in a bloody rampage at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Officials say the lone shooter has been shot multiple times and is now in custody.

 

A US army psychiatrist armed with two handguns went on a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood military base in Texas on Thursday, killing 13 and wounding 30 others, army officials said.

Authorities said the suspected gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had been shot multiple times and is now in custody.

“He is currently in custody in stable condition,” Lieutenant-General Robert Cone, commanding officer at Fort Hood, told a news conference. Cone said the military is still investigating the incident, but that “preliminary reports indicate that there was a single shooter who was shot multiple times at the scene”.

Hasan had been responsible for treating US soldiers at the base who were preparing for missions overseas.

Army authorities said Hasan opened fire at about 8:30 pm (GMT+1) at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, a complex within the base where soldiers receive medical checkups before overseas deployments.

Fort Hood, the largest active military facility in the United States, is home to about 50,000 US troops.

Possible Iraq deployment was suspect’s ‘worst nightmare’

Nader Hasan, a cousin of the suspected gunman, told The New York Times that Hasan had joined the US military after high school and later served as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. The suspect, 39, was transferred to Fort Hood in April.

Hasan said his cousin had been concerned about being deployed to Iraq.

“We’ve known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare,” he told US broadcaster Fox News.

Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison cited generals at Fort Hood as saying that Hasan was slated to deploy overseas to either Iraq or Afghanistan, but this was not confirmed by the US military.

Col Terry Lee, a retired US officer who once worked with Hasan at Fort Hood, told Fox that the suspect had been hoping for a troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and had had angry confrontations with other officers over his opposition to the US wars.

“The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the American military had some doubts about Mr. Hasan for quite some time because he was very open about his opposition to the mission in Iraq,” says Guillaume Meyer, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Washington.

Nader Hasan told The New York Times that his cousin, a US-born Muslim whose parents were American citizens of Palestinian origin, had additionally faced harassment from fellow soldiers for his Middle Eastern ethnicity.

The suspect reportedly retained a lawyer several years ago to help him leave the army before his contract expired. But Nader Hasan said his cousin was told the army would not allow him to leave until his military commitment was up.

The shooting shines a spotlight on the psychological pressure many US soldiers confront as they face being deployed to either of two foreign wars. Army suicides hit a record high of 128 last year and in May a soldier at a US base in Baghdad shot and killed five of his comrades.

Speaking in Washington, US President Barack Obama said the military’s investigation would seek to provide “answers to every single question about this horrible incident”, calling it a “horrific outburst of violence”.

 

Date created : 2009-11-06

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