Investigators searched for the motive behind a mass shooting at the world’s biggest military base in Texas -Fort Hood, in which an Army psychiatrist trained to treat war wounded is suspected of killing 13 people.
The suspected gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States of immigrant parents, was shot four times by police, a base spokesperson said. He was unconscious but in stable condition.
A woman died overnight from her wounds, raising the toll from the shootings to 13 dead and 30 wounded, said Colonel John Rossi, a spokesperson at Fort Hood.
Hasan was transferred last week by helicopter to the Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas, Rossi said. He had been on a ventilator in a civilian hospital.
The Army declined to discuss possible motives while the investigation was under way. “We have to understand what caused the suspect to act in the way that he did,” Army Secretary John McHugh said after observing a moment of silence at the base.
Army Chief of Staff George Casey said: “This was a kick in the gut.”
The gunman, with two guns including a semi-automatic weapon, opened fire apparently without warning at the crowded Soldiers Readiness Processing Centre, where troops were getting medical checkups before leaving for foreign deployments.
Hasan, 39, had spent years counselling severely wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, many of whom had lost limbs fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was transferred to Fort Hood in April and was to have been deployed to Afghanistan, where the US military is engaged in an increasingly bloody war against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI are investigating the shootings and no charges have been brought against Hasan, McHugh said.
In Washington, President Barack Obama met with FBI officials, including agency director Robert Mueller, to discuss the incident.
“We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,” Obama said.
Hasan’s cousin, Nader Hasan, said in interviews that he had agitated not to be sent overseas.
“We’ve known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare,” he said.
In May, a US soldier at a base in Baghdad shot and killed five fellow soldiers.
Multiple shooting incidents are not uncommon in the United States, where there are relatively lax gun controls.
Fort Hood personnel have accounted for more suicides than any other Army post since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, with 75 tallied through July of this year.
Fort Hood, about 60 miles (97 km) from the state capital Austin, is home to about 50 000 troops.
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