March 4, 2011 / 10:49 AM / 9 years ago

Germany says shooting of U.S. airmen a solo act

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - A lone gunman enraged over the war in Afghanistan probably acted alone when he shot dead two U.S. airmen and wounded two others at Frankfurt airport this week, a German prosecutor said on Friday.

A mourner places a candle next to a sign "Rage, Mourning and Why" at the airport in Frankfurt, March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

German media had reported the man could be part of a terrorist cell, raising fears of further attacks on U.S. targets in Germany.

Arid Uka, a Kosovan national, confessed to firing on the U.S. airmen at point-blank range with a 9mm pistol, federal prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum told a televised news conference in Karlsruhe, western Germany.

“He wanted revenge for the U.S. operations in Afghanistan,” Griesbaum said. Uka had frequented jihadist websites before the attack and said he wanted to prevent the soldiers from committing crimes against civilians, the prosecutor added.

“Preliminary evaluations and evidence show it was the act of an Islamist-inspired single perpetrator,” Griesbaum said. “There is no evidence at the moment the act was coordinated with others or that he was a member of a terrorist organisation.”

Uka, 21, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Griesbaum described how the gunman walked up to the airmen who were boarding a U.S. Army bus on Wednesday and asked one of them for a cigarette.

After enquiring if the soldiers were headed to fight in Afghanistan and hearing it confirmed, Uka shot the 25-year-old man in the back of the head, killing him.

He then boarded the bus, shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) and shot a 21-year old airman sitting in the driver’s seat dead. He wounded two others and pulled the trigger on a fifth target when his gun jammed.

That serviceman managed to catch Uka along with police after he fled.

Uka, who was working on a short-term contract at the Frankfurt international postal centre at the airport, often came across travelling U.S. servicemen, but only planned the attack after watching an online video.

“He said American soldiers had plundered a Muslim house and raped the family’s daughter in the video, and he could not shake the images from his head,” Griesbaum said.

As prosecutors regarded the shootings as a solo act, further attacks linked to that one did not appear likely.

“The security situation can be seen as unchanged,” Griesbaum said, adding that the case shows Germany and other countries needed to fight against online jihadist propaganda.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he was outraged by the attack and the Kosovo government condemned the shooting. The Kosovo parliament held a minute’s silence.

Writing and additional reporting by Brian Rohan ; editing by John Stonestreet and Elizabeth Fullerton

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