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Pentagon Reports Second Incident Involving US Marines in Kuwait This Week - 2002-10-09

A U.S. soldier riding in a military vehicle in Kuwait shot at a civilian vehicle Wednesday, after he thought he was threatened with a firearm. U.S. Defense Department officials say they do not know if anyone was injured.

It was the second violent incident involving U.S. troops in Kuwait in as many days. Pentagon officials say the Kuwaiti gunmen involved in a bloody attack on U.S. Marines earlier this week had links to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

A senior defense official tells VOA the two gunmen who shot and killed one Marine and wounded another in Kuwait Tuesday are believed to have received military training from al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

But this official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says it is still unclear whether the men can be considered full-fledged al-Qaida members. He also says it is unknown whether their attack on the Marines was directed by the leadership of the terrorist group.

The two gunmen were shot and killed by other Marines following Tuesday's attack. Kuwaiti authorities have detained at least 30 other people in connection with the incident.

The attack occurred as the Marines were involved in training as part of a joint exercise under way since last week with Kuwaiti forces.

Meanwhile the senior defense official says Sunday's explosion aboard a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen appears to have been a terrorist attack.

The official notes reports that a small boat approached the ship before the explosion. He also notes photos showing the side of the vessel blown inward, much like the damage caused by a small boat attack on a U.S. destroyer off the Yemeni coast two years ago. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed in that terrorist attack.

U.S. investigators are now in Yemen to join French and Yemeni officials probing the tanker blast, which some other reports have suggested could have been an accident.

In yet another development, the senior defense official says investigators are scrutinizing a purported audio tape from top al-Qaida figure Ayman al-Zawahri.

In the tape, broadcast Tuesday by the al-Jazeera television network, a voice identified by announcers as Ayman al-Zawahri's threatens further attacks on the United States. It also claims responsibility for an unspecified attack on French interests.

The defense official says it is still uncertain whether the voice is indeed Ayman al-Zawahri's or when the tape was made.