Kuwaiti Police Search for Four Who Fired Guns Near U.S. Soldiers

Kuwaiti police were searching for four people who fired guns near U.S. troops in the latest shooting incident involving American forces in Kuwait, an American military spokesman said Saturday.

Nobody was injured when shots were fired Friday morning as the Americans were training in the desert south of Kuwait City, the spokesman told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

However, the incident raised concern over the safety of U.S. troops in this small Gulf emirate. It came after shooting incidents last month involving American military personnel, including the Oct. 8 killing of a Marine and wounding of another on Failaka island.

Friday's shooting occurred as U.S. troops were on desert military maneuvers at Oraifijan, 35 miles south of Kuwait City.

U.S. military officials say shots came from two white pickup trucks, each carrying two people. It was not immediately clear what kind of weapons were used. Earlier reports indicated four people were arrested. There was no explanation why authorities withdrew that account.

"The shots were fired within the vicinity (of U.S. troops), nobody was injured," a U.S. spokesman said. He said Kuwaiti police were the primary investigators.

Efforts to contact police spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.

It was unclear if the shots had been directed at American forces or whether they came from hunters.

Kuwaiti officials have said privately that shots fired on Oct. 14 in the northwestern desert near U.S. troops probably came from Bedouin hunters who were not trying to harm Americans.

But U.S. military personnel have been on alert since the U.S. Marine was killed early last month. Two Kuwaiti fundamentalist Muslims who carried out the attack were killed by other Marines.

Attacks on U.S. military personnel have shocked Kuwaitis who depend on Washington for protection from Iraq, which invaded this oil-rich country in 1990. A U.S.-led coalition drove out the Iraqis the following year.

Kuwait signed a defense pact with Washington after the Iraqis were defeated.

Many Kuwaiti fundamentalist leaders have said the young people who attacked U.S. troops were "misguided," and the number of militant extremists here is believed to be small.

Some 10,000 American forces are in Kuwait for routine desert training or maintaining equipment pre-positioned to defend the country. U.S. fighter jets use two Kuwaiti air bases to patrol a no-fly zone in southern Iraq.