US base in UK on alert as car attempts to ram checkpoint
The UK police have arrested a man after he tried to attack a Royal Air Force base used by the US military.
The unidentified man tried to ram his car into a checkpoint at the entrance of RAF Mildenhall airbase in Suffolk, eastern England, but was stopped after the American personnel opened fire on him.
Suffolk police said they had arrested the man with “cuts and bruises.” No other people were injured.
Authorities said they were treating the incident as trespassing and not terrorism. However, there was “no obvious motive at this stage,” according to Superintendent Kim Warner, from Suffolk Police.
“Shots were fired by US security, I don’t know how many, but I do know that shots were fired,” Warner said.
Earlier, police had described the incident at the base as a “significant incident.” The base was temporarily locked down.
“The base was locked down and emergency personnel are responding to the situation,” RAF Mildenhall said in a statement that was issued immediately after the incident.
“Additional details will be provided as they become available. Individuals in the area surrounding the installation are asked to avoid the base at this time,” it added. “We ask that individuals avoid posting messages on social media regarding the incident.”
Guarded by the UK Ministry of Defense police and armed US military personnel, RAF Mildenhall is home to about 3,200 American military personnel. The base also has between 400 and 500 UK civilian staff working there.
The base serves as a transport hub for the US military and houses a fleet of refueling aircraft as well as a number of special operations forces.
The MoD had included the base among the 56 military sites that it wanted to close but the US Air Force said it was staying at the base until at least 2024, before relocating to another base in Germany.
The incident is likely to spark a serious conversation between the Pentagon and the UK MoD, because American military bases across Britain are governed by the Status of Forces Act, which requires special rules of engagement and certain protocols when it come to the discharge of firearms.