BREAKING: Army Major Malik Nadal Hassan shoots 12 dead, injures 31 in Fort Hood shooting *UPDATE*


(AFP) Armed gunmen have killed seven people and wounded up to 30 others in two shootings at Fort Hood military base in Texas, US authorities say.

An Army spokesman at the Pentagon said the shootings began about 1.30pm on Thursday (0630 AEDT, Friday) at a personnel and medical processing centre. The second incident took place at a theatre on the sprawling base in Killeen.

The spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Banks, said two shooters were apparently involved.

Two gunmen have been taken into custody, MSNBC said. Earlier, reports said one of the gunmen was on the loose with a high-powered sniper rifle.

There was also speculation of a third gunman, as well as reports of shots being fired at a soldiers' residence area even after the first two gunmen had been caught, MSNBC said.

While the shooters were dressed in army fatigues, it was not yet known if they were civilians or army personnel, Fox News said.

CNN reported up to nine people may have died in the shootings.

The Army confirmed 20 people had been wounded, but Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said the number could be as high as 30.

A number of ambulances were shown on local TV leaving the base with their sirens blaring. Texas hospital Scott and White, in Temple, updated its website to say it was receiving victims from the army base.

"At this time, the victims coming to Scott & White are suffering from gun shot wounds," it said.

Local media reported many of the areas on the base where the shootings took place were frequented by the family members of soldiers.

Local congressman John Carter confirmed on MSNBC that the gunfire had erupted during a graduation ceremony in the soldier readiness centre.

Fort Hood is the largest US military base in the world and had been working to rehabilitate many soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, Carter said.

Many of the soldiers at Fort Hood had been on repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, MSNBC said.

The website of the base in central Texas has posted an alert that says: "Effective immediately. Fort Hood is closed. Organisations/units are instructed to execute a 100 per cent accountability of all personnel. This is not a drill. It is an emergency situation."

The website said that units at the base have been ordered to account for all personnel.

Bridget Donovan, a resident on the base, described her terror.

"locked in my post housing. scared. dont know where the shooters are," she wrote on Twitter.

"all i hear are sirens telling us to stay indoors. can't hear any gunfire.

"i'm safe, but scared. i have my husband and many friends on post. worried about them."

Schools in the area were also on lock-down, MSNBC said.

UPDATE:

FOX reported that the shooter's name is Army Major Malik Nadal Hassan and he is of Jordanian descent. Others reports claim that he is recent convert to Islam. In what seems to be a move toward political correctness, the US ARMY is claiming that this was NOT a terrorist attack. AP also reports that Fort Hood suspect drew attention of authorities 6 mos. ago for Internet posts. FOX reported that Hassan stated that Muslims should "rise up against the aggressor."



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