SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A man opened fire with an automatic weapon outside the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia on Friday, and authorities said he was targeting the building in a terrorist attack.
The man injured at least one police officer guarding the embassy before police surrounded him. After a 30-minute standoff, the sound of a single shot echoed and AP Video showed the shooter — brandishing a Kalyshinkov on a street corner outside of the embassy — slump to the ground.
Police arrested the wounded man and took him away in an ambulance as pedestrians watched from behind buildings and vehicles. Sarajevo police spokesman Irfan Nefic said the man was being treated at a hospital.
Hospital spokeswoman Biljana Jandric told The Associated Press the gunman’s leg was slightly injured and he will remain in hospital overnight before being released into police custody.
Sarajevo mayor Alija Behmen said the man had “got off a tram with a Kalashnikov and started shooting at the American embassy.”
Witnesses told Bosnian TV the man was urging pedestrians to move away because he did not want to hurt them as his target was the embassy
The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that none of its employees was injured. Ambassador Patrick Moon expressed his gratitude for the swift response by the police.
Bakir Izetbegovic, one of Bosnia’s three presidents, issued a statement condemning “the terrorist attack on the embassy of the United States in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
“The United States is a proven friend of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Its government and its people supported us in the most difficult moments in our history and nobody has the right to jeopardize our relations,” he said.
Zeljko Komisci, chairman of Bosnia’s presidency, said in a video interview with Associated Press that the country will now have to wait to hear if the security services determine if the attack “was the act of an individual, or something organized.”
“But whatever it was, it is not just an attack at the U.S. embassy or the U.S., it is also an attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he added.
He said in a later statement that Bosnia “is not a terrorist refuge and neither does our country nor its citizens support anything that jeopardizes peace, security or anyone’s life.”
He added that according to initial information, the attacker was a foreign citizen previously known to police.
Bosnian Muslims are sensitive about their relations with the U.S. because it was the driving force behind the NATO military intervention and brokered a peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war.
The gunman was bearded and dressed in an outfit typical for followers of the conservative Wahabi branch of Islam.
Bosnian TV identified the shooter as Mevlid Jasarevic, from Novi Pazar, Serbia. It said he is a Wahabi follower, but did not cite its sources.
The Wahabis are an extremely conservative branch of Islam which is rooted in Saudi Arabia and linked to religious militants in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.