Frankfurt attack may be a terror strike

Berlin: A shooting on a military bus at Frankfurt airport in which two US soldiers were killed and two others wounded, may have been a terrorist attack, German security authorities have said.

Investigators of the German Federal Criminal Office have received information that the gunman, a 21-year-old man from Kosovo living in Frankfurt for many years had contacts to persons associated with radical Muslim groups, media reports said. The gunman was arrested after the incident in which two US airmen were killed and another two wounded.

According to one report, the gunman had linked up his facebook profile with websites propagating radical views.

There are also growing indications that the attacker was well informed about the travel plans of the US soldiers, the reports said.

It could also be possible that he had planned it for a long time and he may have accomplices.

Boris Rhein, Interior Minister of the state of Hessen, where the Frankfurt Airport is located, spoke of rumours that one eyewitness heard the gunman shouting "Allahu Akbar".

He described the attack as a "hideous crime" which must be cleared up in cooperation with the American security authorities.

About a dozen soldiers belonging to the military police of the US Air Force, who are stationed at the Lakenheath air base in Britain, arrived at the Frankfurt Airportlast afternoon from London on board a civilian flight.

They boarded the military bus parked outside the Terminal 2 to travel to the US air base in Ramstein.

From there, they were scheduled to leave for Afghanistan or Iraq in the coming days. Ramstein has been a hub for military operations in the two countries.

According to police, the attacker fired several shots at the bus, killing a soldier and the driver, who were standing near the bus.

He then entered the bus and fired at the soldiers sitting inside. He was overpowered and arrested by police as he tried to escape by running inside the terminal.

Besides the local police, the Federal Criminal Office, Frankfurt State Prosecutor and American security authorities are involved in the investigations.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are sending a large team of specialists to Frankfurt.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama have sharply condemned the attack.

The German government will do everything to clear up this "shocking incident," she said. The Chancellor also expressed her condolences with the bereaved families of the soldiers.

President Obama said the US government would everything to find out how this "dastardly act" happened.

The operation of the Frankfurt Airport was not affected by the attack and most of the air travellers were unaware of it, an airport spokesman said.

Germany had stepped up the security for airports, railway stations and other public places at the end of last year following several warnings that Islamic terrorists were planning to carry out attacks on high-profile targets in this country.