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Page last updated at 01:14 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

US Army base gunman 'conscious'

Nidal Malik Hasan in 2007 (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Maj Hasan was shot by a police officer at the army base

A US Army major suspected of shooting dead 13 people at a military base has regained consciousness and is able to talk, officials have told the BBC.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old army psychiatrist, injured another 29 people at the Fort Hood base in Texas.

He was shot by police and had been in a coma in hospital following the attack.

He will be charged in a military court, officials said. His motives are unknown, but reports said he was unhappy about going to Afghanistan.

Maria Gallegos, a spokeswoman for the Brooke Army Medical Center, said Maj Hasan was in a critical but stable condition.

However, she would not say what Maj Hasan had been talking to medical staff about, nor what treatment he was receiving.

A spokesman at the hospital, Dewey Mitchell, told the Associated Press news agency Maj Hasan had been able to speak since Saturday, when he was taken off a ventilator.

Also on Monday an imam at the mosque where Maj Hasan, a US-born Muslim, once worshipped described his actions as "cowardly" and pointed out that many Muslims served with honour in the US military.

'Nightmare'

Witnesses to Thursday's attack said Maj Hasan opened fire on fellow soldiers at a processing centre for troops about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

A US soldier and his wife outside Fort Hood

He is alleged to have killed 12 soldiers and one civilian.

US President Barack Obama described the incident as a "horrific outburst of violence".

Senior US Senator Joe Lieberman has said he plans to open a congressional investigation into whether the shootings were a terrorist attack.

Mr Lieberman also said he hoped to determine whether the army missed signs that Maj Hasan may have harboured extreme views.

Maj Hasan was born in the US of Palestinian parents and has been described as a devout Muslim.

His cousin told US media last week that his imminent deployment was his "worst nightmare", and that he had been battling racial harassment because of his "Middle Eastern ethnicity".

Army officials have warned people not to jump to conclusions about Maj Hasan's motives.

Fort Hood, near the town of Killeen, is the largest US base in the world and houses some 40,000 US troops.

Soldiers at Fort Hood are among those deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some will have returned from there. The base has a centre that deals with combat stress.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday for the victims of the attack.



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