Saturday, 29th October 2011
Radical Islamist gunman opens fire outside U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in a terrorist attack.
A suspected radical Islamist gunman opened fire outside US embassy in Sarajevo today in an apparent terror attack.
Dramatic pictures show the heavily bearded gunman calmly walking the streets clutching his semi automatic weapon before indiscriminately shooting at civilians and police officers.
And the Bosnian president has told reporters he believes the shooting spree in front of the embassy was terrorist attack.
Pictures taken at the scene show the gunman chillingly approach the embassy carrying his weapon before callously open firing at officers and passers-by.
Earlier media reports said the man, identified as a member of the Wahhabi branch of Islam, was killed by a sniper after firing a Kalashnikov rifle at the US mission.
But later it was confirmed the gunman, identified by Bosnian television as 23-year-old Serbian Mevlid Jasarevic, was still alive after being shot down in a police operation at the embassy.
'The doctors are conducting a medical intervention and the man is expected to be escorted from hospital by the police in next two to three hours,' said hospital spokeswoman Biljana Jandric.
A police spokesman told Bosnian television at least one officer was injured before the gunman was taken down.
He added: 'The person who fired an automatic weapon was wounded and arrested during the police operation.
'After receiving medical treatment on the scene the person was hospitalised.' police spokesman Irfan Nefic told national BHT television.
Embassy spokeswoman Sanja Pejcinovic would not go into details of the apparent attack.
'We can confirm there has been an incident in front of the embassy. The building is closed and we are waiting for the police to seal off the area', she told AFP.
Bosnian national radio said police were searching the vicinity of the embassy for possible accomplices.
'Several police patrols were sent to the scene. Two police men were wounded, one in the leg and one in the head," the radio reported.'
Bosnia, which was torn apart by war between Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim), Croats and Serbs in 1992-95 as Yugoslavia collapsed, is considered a strong ally of the United States in the turbulent Balkans.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, condemned the attack, saying the United States was a proven friend' of Bosnia.
'The American government and people have supported us in the most difficult moments of our history, and nobody has the right to endanger the friendly relations between our two countries,' he said in a statement.
Jasminka Fisic, who was close to the embassy --located in the centre of Sarajevo near the iconic Holiday Inn hotel --told AFP by telephone that the entire area was sealed off with police cars speeding towards the embassy.
Bosnia is home to a small minority of followers of Wahhabism, a strict and ultra-conservative brand of Islam which is dominant in Saudi Arabia.
During Bosnia's 1992-95 war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs, a large number of volunteers from Muslim nations flocked to the Balkan country to take up arms.
Many of these Muslim fighters stayed on after the conflict and obtained Bosnian citizenship. Some in the mostly moderate Bosnian Muslim community have converted to the more radical Islam preached by several ex-mujahedeen.
The U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, a mainly Muslim city, closed briefly in March 2002 citing an unspecified threat, but the building has not come under attack before.