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Sunday, March 23

1 dead, U.S. soldier detained in attack on 101st leaders

By Matthew Cox | Army Times

Updated 5:54 p.m., March 23

CAMP NEW YORK, Kuwait - An American soldier hurled a pair of grenades into his unit‘s command post early Sunday morning, killing one soldier and wounding 15, U.S. military spokesmen said.

The attack occurred about 1:30 a.m. on Camp Pennsylvania, headquarters of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.

Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 31, is being held on suspicion of lobbing the fragmentation grenades into the unit‘s Tactical Operations Center tents and then opened fire with small arms, said Staff Sgt. Mark Swart, a spokesman for the division. Akbar‘s mother, Quran Bilal of Baton Rouge, La., confirmed that her son was being held in the investigation.

Of the sixteen soldiers injured, 11 were evacuated by helicopter. One soldier, Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, died later of his injuries. His hometown was not available from the Defense Department.

The Tactical Operations Center is usually occupied by the top commanders. The brigade commander was not killed in the attack.

The incident is under investigation by the Army‘s Criminal Investigation Command.

Coming after several days of Iraqi missile attacks, the grenade assault frayed nerves among the troops.

Leaders here at Camp New York, about a mile away, first heard about the grenade incident about 2 a.m. and thought it could be an enemy attack. Col. Joe Anderson, commander of 2nd Brigade, ordered the alert for ground attack.

Inside 2nd Brigade‘s Tactical Operations Center, leaders called unit commanders, ordering them to increase security at guard posts and to send out roving patrols to search for suspicious activity.

Later in the morning, leaders and soldiers were shocked to find out that one of their own may have launched the attack.

"To me it‘s unbelievable," said Capt. Andrew McCleery, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, who is from Tucson, Ariz. "It‘s unfortunate for the 101st. Hopefully it‘s something we can move past and keep the soldiers focused on the mission."

Anderson, 43, who is from White Plains, N.Y., said that while incident is tragic, it‘s not something that is going to interfere with any of the unit‘s future missions.

"It‘s no different than the helicopter that crashed two days ago," he said, referring to the Marine helicopter that crashed recently in Kuwait. "It‘s unfortunate. It‘s a freak thing, but it‘s not about our (brigade)."

The type of weapon used in the attack, the M-67 fragmentation grenade, has a blast radius of about 40 feet.

Division officials would not release the type of weapon the soldier fired, but small arms can mean 9 mm pistols, M-16 rifles and M-249 automatic weapons.