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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 14:56 GMT
Shooting at Qatari air base

Officials in Qatar say that security forces have shot dead a Qatari national after he opened fire on an air base in the Gulf emirate.

The man, named as Abdullah Mubarak al-Hajri, opened fire at 1030 (0730 GMT) on Wednesday on the Al-Udeid base 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital Doha, the official Qatari news agency reported.

According to the US embassy in Doha, an unknown number of Americans were injured in the attack, but in Washington the Pentagon said it had no such information.

The air base is being used by US military aircraft, in line with a military cooperation agreement between the two countries.

The BBC Middle East correspondent says the attack will heighten fears of the Arab states rulers that their populations are opposed to any support for the US-led campaign against Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda network.

Security fears

The attack comes ahead of the opening of a World Trade Organisation [WTO] conference in Doha on Friday.

Sheraton hotel in Qatar
Security is tight in the runup to the WTO meeting
WTO chief Mike Moore said the attack was not related to the conference, and would not affect it.

Organisers of the conference have considered moving it to a different venue following security fears in the wake of the 11 September attacks, but Qatar fought to keep it.

The United States trade representative, Robert Zoellick, said he had decided to keep the size of his delegation "as small as possible" for security reasons.

Doha was originally chosen in an effort to stem the likely mass of protesters, who were instrumental in making the last WTO meeting in Seattle in 1999 an ignominious failure.

Organisers expect 141 countries to attend the conference, which runs from 9-13 November.

The BBC's Andrew North
"The Qatar talks will focus on issues put forward by the west"
Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary
"We are listening to developing countries"
See also:

22 Oct 01 | Business
WTO meeting to go ahead
14 Oct 01 | Business
Doha in doubt for WTO talks
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
US serviceman killed in Qatar
16 Oct 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Qatar
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