Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 5 News List

US serviceman kills a civilian at Kyrgyzstan airbase

AP , BISHKEK

A US serviceman fatally shot a civilian at the US military air base in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday "in response to a threat," the US military said.

A statement released by the public affairs office at the Manas Air Base, where US planes and military personnel are stationed, said an Air Force security forces airman "used deadly force in response to a threat at an entry control checkpoint."

The civilian was treated by Air Force medics and died later in the base's emergency room, the statement by the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing said.

Major Don Traud, a base spokesman, declined to give any further information, saying investigators were still gathering information.

According to a senior US military official in Washington, a fuel truck driver reportedly brandished a knife during a routine vehicle inspection. The driver was trying to gain access to the base and was killed by an Air Force security airman who was acting in self-defense, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the incident is still under investigation.

Deputy Interior Minister Temirkan Subanov told reporters earlier that the driver was shot twice at the base, located at the Manas airport just outside the capital, Bishkek. He said he did not know what prompted the shooting, which occurred around 3pm local time.

Co-workers identified the slain man as Alexander Ivanov, a 42-year-old who worked for a company called Aerocraft Petrol Management.

Co-worker Sergei Pavlov said Ivanov had worked for four years for the company, which provides fuel services for Kyrgyz and international civilian aircraft, but not American military aircraft.

Pavlov said the incident happened at a checkpoint at the airport that is controlled by US military personnel. He said drivers traveling from a fuel depot to fill up aircraft must stop at the checkpoint and exit the cabin of the truck while guards search the truck.

Pavlov, who did not witness the shooting, said Ivanov was apparently shot after he exited the cabin of his truck.

Kyrgyz news agency Akipress, citing what it said were "competent organs," said the man acted aggressive and tried to brandish a knife or similar weapon. The agency also cited unnamed Foreign Ministry officials as saying that US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch had delivered a note of regret to Kyrgyz officials and promised an investigation.

Kyrgyzstan and the US have struggled this year to agree on terms for the continued leasing of the base, which took on greater importance last year after Uzbekistan evicted US forces from a base there.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Kyrgyzstan, has called for the US to set a timetable for closing bases in its countries.

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