December 18, 2017 / 2:46 PM / 2 months ago

Shots fired by U.S. military personnel to stop man forcing entry onto British base

MILDENHALL, England (Reuters) - U.S. military personnel fired shots on Monday as they stopped a man who tried to force his way into a British military base used by the U.S. Air Force, in an incident that police said was not being treated as terrorism.

The Mildenhall Royal Air Force base said security staff locked down the base, used by the United States military to refuel U.S. and NATO aircraft in Europe, at about 1300 GMT following reports of a disturbance.

“Shots were fired by American service personnel and a man has been detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody,” Suffolk police said. “No other people have been injured as a result of the incident.”

Police said they were not looking for anyone else on the site after the man, a 44 year-old Briton, was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

A Western security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Suffolk police were taking the lead on the incident and that specialist anti-terrorism officers were not immediately involved.

Suffolk Police confirmed in a statement they were not treating the incident as terrorism and were receiving support from other law enforcement agencies while their investigation continued.

British police stand guard at the entrance to the US Air Force base at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, Britain December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Radburn

The U.S. Air Force said the incident at the base, which is about 77 miles (125 km) northeast of London, had been contained and the suspect had been apprehended.

Police said they remained on the base but there was no threat to the base or local community.

British police stand guard at the entrance to the US Air Force base at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, Britain December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Radburn

Mildenhall houses the 100th Air Refuelling Wing and some special operations squadrons.

The 1,162-acre base, which is home to about 3,100 U.S. military and an additional 3,000 family members, is earmarked for closure after the United States said it was going to move its operations from the base to Germany.

The base said in a statement staff had been released from the lockdown about an hour-and-a-half after the incident.

“Individuals in the area surrounding the installation are asked to avoid the base at this time,” it said.

In 2016, a delivery driver was convicted of plotting to kill U.S. troops based in England by staging road accidents with soldiers’ cars and then attacking them with knives and possibly a home-made bomb.

Prosecutors said Junead Khan had used his job to scout RAF Mildenhall and two other U.S. bases while on carrying out deliveries.

Additional reporting By Michael Holden, Andrew MacAskill and Kate Holton in London, Phil Stewart in Washington and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Catherine Evans

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