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Fort Hood shooting suspect 'awake'
Man suspected of deadly attack at army base is now able to talk, spokesman says.
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2009 18:07

Thirteen people were killed in the gun attack at Fort Hood, the world's largest military base [AFP]

A man suspected of shooting dead 13 people and wounding 29 others at the Fort Hood army base in Texas is conscious in hospital and is able to talk, a US army hospital spokesman has said.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who was shot by civilian police during the attack on Thursday, is in a stable condition, Dewey Mitchell, a spokesman at Brooke Army Medical Centre, said on Monday.

Investigators are continuing to search for a motive behind the shootings at the base, the largest military facility in the world.

The attack took place inside the base as soldiers were awaiting medical and dental treatment at a processing centre for those being deployed on missions to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hasan, born in the US to Muslim Palestinian parents, had been kept on a ventilator at a civilian hospital but was transferred to the army hospital on Friday.

Flags at half mast

Recent US mass shootings

April 3, 2009: Jiverly Wong, a Vietnamese immigrant, opens fire at an immigrant community centre in Binghamton, New York, killing 11 immigrants and two workers. Wong killed himself at the scene

 March 10, 2009: Michael McLendon, 28, killed 10 people, including his
Mother and four other family members in Alabama before himself committing suicide.

 February 14, 2008: Former student Steven Kazmierczak, 27, kills five students and wound 18 more in shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He then killed himself.

 December 5, 2007: Robert Hawkins, 19, opens fire in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska killing eight people before taking his own life.

 April 16, 2007: Cho Seung-Hui, 23, kills 32 students and staff at Virginia Tech before killing himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

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.

Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing, reporting from Fort Hood, said: "[Hasan] joined the army after high school and went to the Virginia Tech university to get a psychiatry degree through a military programme.

"Every day, he heard how horrible those stories were and he really started to question the wars, according to what his cousin and sources who knew him said.

"Hasan became more devout in his religion and started arguing with soldiers about whether the wars were right or not, to the point where he received disciplinary action and negative work reviews.

"It raises a major question - how can a person responsible for the mental health of soldiers returning [from war] be allowed to continue in this profession when he has these kinds of questions himself?"

Deployment fears

Hasan's cousin, Nader Hasan, said in interviews that he had been agitated about being deployed to be sent overseas.

"We've known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare," he said.

He told the New York Times newspaper that Hasan had retained a lawyer and sought to get out of the army before the end of his contract.

American Muslim groups expressed regret and stressed that the incident appeared to have been carried out by a single disturbed individual.

"Thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably every day in all four branches of the US military and in the National Guard," the Arab American Institute said on Friday.

Multiple shooting incidents are not uncommon in the US, 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.

The base, about 100km from the state capital, Austin, is home to about 50,000 troops.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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