Two US women sailors shot dead in Bahrain


"There are no indications of terrorism or a base intrusion. Initial reports indicate the incident involved US military personnel only," said a statement from the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet which is headquartered in Bahrain.

The shooting, which occurred at around 5 am (0200 GMT) in the US base east of the capital Manama, is being investigated, the navy said, adding that the facility had been closed for an hour after the shooting.

Two sailors were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was taken to a local hospital for treatment. A spokeswoman for the Fifth Fleet said the two dead personnel were women.

The military said it would not disclose the names of the victims until the next of kin had been informed.

News of the double-shooting had raised fears the sailors were victims of a terror attack.

Bahrain earlier this month charged four nationals with belonging to a banned organisation, the Al-Qaeda network, following reports that a cell was plotting attacks against US targets.

Three of the suspects are due in court on Tuesday, while a fourth remains at large outside Bahrain.

The small Gulf archipelago has been designated by Washington as a major non-NATO ally and also has a free trade agreement with the United States.

But it has become a focus of anti-American demonstrations over the past few years with police using tear gas to disperse around 300 demonstrators protesting outside the US embassy in Manama at the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin in 2004.

The government in Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled country with a Shiite majority, has introduced tough new anti-terror laws despite strong opposition from local rights groups.

Around 5,000 US citizens, mostly service personnel, are based in the Gulf kingdom.

Tensions in the Gulf also remain high over Iran’s contested nuclear programme, which the West fears could be a cover for ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

The US military has had a presence in the region since 1949 and the Fifth Fleet played a key role in assisting with the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the operation to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Fifth Fleet’s area of operations covers about 7.5 million square miles (19.4 million square kilometres) and includes the Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

In August, the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier arrived in Gulf waters to conduct security operations and provide air support to ground troops, replacing two carriers which left in July.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *