Thu, 01 Oct 2020

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 7 (ANI): At least six Saudi nationals on Friday (local time) were detained for questioning in connection with the mass shooting carried out by a national of their country at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida which left four people dead, including the assailant himself.

Quoting a senior US official, Fox News reported that the gunman, who opened fire on at the NAS station on Friday morning (local time), was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia named Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is leading the probe into the shooting, had declined to reveal the identity of the shooter in the early stages of the investigation.

Alshamrani was said to be a student in a US Navy training program for foreign military personnel.

That program is aimed at "immersing international students in our US Navy training and culture" to help "build partnership capacity for both the present and for the years ahead," Cmdr. Bill Gibson, the centre's officer in charge, had said in 2017.

But Friday's events caused many officials and lawmakers to call for deeper scrutiny of the security measures and vetting that goes into selecting trainees.

Senator Rick Scott from Florida wrote on Twitter that he is calling for a "full review" of the Navy training programs after investigators were quoted as saying that the attack was possibly an act of terrorism.

"I'm very concerned that the shooter in Pensacola was a foreign national training on a US base. Today, I'm calling for a full review of the U.S. military programs to train foreign nationals on American soil. We shouldn't be providing military training to people who wish us harm," Scott wrote.

Sources also told Fox News that the scene of the shooting -- a classroom, where students usually spend three months at the beginning of the program -- indicated that the shooter was a student who was "early" in his training.

The majority of the hundreds of foreign aviation students who have participated in the program are from Saudi Arabia, the Navy said.

The Naval training program has about 1,500 pilots in total.

Saudis have received training at the Pensacola site since the 1970s, with as many as 20 students from the Middle Eastern country in any given class, sources added.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Foreign Ministry has expressed "its deep distress" following the shooting and offered "its sincere condolences to the victims' families, and wishes the injured a speedy recovery," it said in a statement on Friday.

President Donald Trump also said that he spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia after the shooting and that the foreign leader "called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida.""The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people," the President added. (ANI)

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