killed, 12 injured by 'resentful' Muslim GI
An American army
sergeant was in custody yesterday after one soldier died and at least 12
were injured in a grenade attack on a US command centre in
Tents belonging to the
101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania, central Kuwait, were left
burnt and bloodstained after two grenades were thrown at around 1.20am
local time yesterday.
Two Kuwaiti translators
were detained, but about an hour after the incident the missing
sergeant, described as "armed and dangerous", was found hiding
in a bunker. Three of his grenades were missing, and some witnesses said
they had heard a third explosion.
The soldier was a
Muslim, Sergeant Asan Akbar, an engineer from the 326th Engineer
Battalion, said George Heath, a spokesman at the division's home base at
Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Sgt Akbar had been
"having what some might call an attitude problem," Mr Heath
told reporters. He has not been charged.
According to reporters
based at the camp, Sgt Akbar was angry about the war in Iraq and might
also have been the target of derogatory anti-Muslim remarks at the camp.
He had been acting
"insubordinate", Time magazine's correspondent at Camp
Pennsylvania reported, and "his superiors had decided not to bring
him into Iraq".
The motive was probably
"resentment", a US army spokesman said. Other Muslim soldiers
at the camp have apparently complained about a hostile atmosphere.
The tents targeted were
described as command tents housing officers of the 1st Brigade.
Immediately after the second blast, soldiers could be heard screaming:
"Get out! Get out!" One woman yelled: "I'm hit!" and
reports described moments of disorder as bleeding soldiers tried to
bandage themselves before medics arrived. Soldiers initially feared the
camp had come under terrorist attack.
Footage showed Sgt
Akbar being led away handcuffed. There were unconfirmed reports that a
second soldier had been detained by military police.
At least three of the
11 people evacuated to military hospitals by helicopter were reported to
be seriously injured. Colonel Richard Thomas, the division surgeon, said
most of the soldiers were expected to recover but that several of the
injuries were very serious.
The phenomenon of
soldiers deliberately attacking those on the same side became known as
"fragging" during the Vietnam war, because fragmentation
grenades were often used. The attacks were often sparked by
confrontations involving racism.
Precise figures remain
unknown, but according to some historians at least 600 American soldiers
were killed in fragging attacks in the course of the Vietnam conflict.
|refusing to kill|