- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A man armed with a handgun attacked a bus carrying U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday, killing two Americans and wounding two others before being taken into custody, authorities said.

Boris Rhein, the top security official in the German state of Hesse, where the shooting took place, identified the shooter as a 21-year-old from Kosovo.

In Washington, President Obama promised to “spare no effort” in investigating the slayings.

The attack came as the bus sat outside the airport’s Terminal 2, according to Frankfurt police spokesman Manfred Fuellhardt. The bus driver and a passenger were killed, one person suffered serious wounds and another light injuries, he said.

The attacker and U.S. military personnel apparently had an altercation in front of the bus just before the man started shooting, Mr. Fuellhardt said. The attacker also briefly entered the bus but was apprehended by police when he tried to escape.

The United States has reduced its forces in Germany drastically over the past decade but still has some 50,000 troops stationed here. It operates several major facilities in the Frankfurt region, including the Ramstein Air Base, which often is used as a logistical hub for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Maj. Beverly Mock, U.S. Air Force Europe spokeswoman, said all four victims were airmen. They were based in Britain, a U.S. Air Force spokesman for the Lakenheath airfield in eastern England said.

Lakenheath is home to the 48th Fighter Wing, the only F-15 fighter wing in Europe. It employs some 4,500 active-duty military members, as well as 2,000 British and U.S. civilians.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed sympathy for the victims and their families and pledged that Germany would do everything in its power to investigate the crime.

“It is a terrible event,” she said.

The German news agency DAPD quoted Mr. Rhein, who rushed to the scene of the shooting, as saying there were no indications of a terrorist attack.

Still, Rep. Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania Republican, who is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in Washington that it looked like a terrorist attack. Mr. Meehan, the chairman of the subcommittee that focuses on terrorism and intelligence, added he did not have all the facts yet and was still being briefed.

At Frankfurt Airport, taxi cab driver Salimi Seraidon was sitting at a stand about 200 yards away when the attack took place and said it was over quickly as police rushed to the scene.

“We just heard the shots,” he said.

Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi identified the suspect as Arif Uka, a Kosovo citizen from the northern town of Mitrovica.

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