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Kuwait Calls Attack on Marines Terrorist Act

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Kuwait calls attack on Marines terrorist act

One American killed, another wounded in shooting

Tuesday, October 8, 2002 Posted: 7:05 PM EDT (2305 GMT)

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (CNN) -- Two Kuwaitis opened fire Tuesday on a group of U.S. Marines on Failaka Island in the Persian Gulf, killing one and wounding another, in what the Kuwait government called a terrorist attack.

The Marines returned fire and killed the two assailants, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said.

Dressed in civilian clothes, the assailants were in a pickup when they opened fire, officials said. Three AK-47 assault rifles later were found in the civilian vehicle, but it was unclear if those weapons were used in the attack, officials said.

The shootout happened about 11:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m. ET) when 150 Marines of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were conducting urban assault training as part of an exercise called Eager Mace, U.S. officials said.

U.S. and Kuwaiti officials were investigating the incident. U.S. officials said the Marines were participating in a non-live fire exercise -- meaning they didn't have ammunition.

It was believed Marine security guards were the ones who fired back at the assailants.

A helicopter took the injured Marines to a U.S. military hospital in Kuwait City where one was pronounced dead. The other has injuries not considered life-threatening and is expected to recover, officials said.

U.S. authorities have not released the Marines' names.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior identified the assailants as Jassem Al Hajiri, 28, and Anas Al-Kandari, 21. Kuwait officials said they had arrested 27 people in and around Kuwait City who had connections to the assailants, either as relatives or friends.

About 1,000 Marines were involved in Eager Mace. All were withdrawn to the Kuwaiti mainland for security reasons after the attack, officials said.

It is unclear if the training exercise would continue.

About 30 other civilians in sections of the island close to the shooting also were detained and turned over to Kuwaiti authorities. A senior Western diplomat said they were detained as witnesses only.

The U.S. military uses Failaka Island for training purposes, U.S. officials said, and it is closed to civilians. Civilians work on the island and have permission to be there. It is not clear whether the two assailants were among them.

The civilians on the island are of various nationalities, including Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Indians and others.

U.S. officials said they had no warnings of any possible terrorist activity on the island.

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, California, landed in Kuwait last month to take part in a monthlong joint exercise with Kuwaiti troops. The Marines arrived on the USS Denver and USS Mount Vernon.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr and Producer Hugh Williams contributed to this report.

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