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Saudi air force officer kills three at US military base in 'act of terrorism'

President Donald Trump says Saudi king expressed his condolences for deadly shooting
Shooting took place at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida (Reuters/File photo)

A Saudi citizen fatally shot three people at a military base in northwest Florida in what a US congressman called an "act of terrorism".

The gunman, who was in pilot training at the US base, killed three people and wounded a number of others before he was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola early on Friday.

Two sheriff's deputies were hurt in the shooting and both were expected to survive, Reuters reported.

"This was not a murder. This was an act of terrorism," Congressman Matt Gaetz, who represents the area, told a local ABC News affiliate.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the shooter was a member of the Saudi air force.

The New York Times cited the base's commander, Timothy Kinsella Jr, as saying that a "couple hundred foreign students are enrolled" in flight training there, adding that the shooter was an "aviation trainee".

The identity of the suspected shooter is Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, Reuters reported, citing anonymous officials.

Later on Friday, President Donald Trump said he received a call from Saudi Arabia's King Salman denouncing the shooting.

"King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida," Trump wrote on Twitter

The president added that the king told him the shooter did not represent the "Saudi people who love the American people".

The official Saudi news agency, SPA, reported that Salman directed the kingdom's security forces to cooperate with their American counterparts to uncover the "circumstances of this regrettable incident".

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan tweeted, conveying his condolences for those killed in the shooting. "Today's tragic shooting at Pensacola, Florida was a heinous crime," he said. "We salute the bravery of those who neutralized the threat and saved lives."

Khalid bin Salman, the kingdom's vice defence minister, also offered his condolences, tweeting that the "tragic event is strongly condemned by everyone in Saudi Arabia".

The minister, who himself trained at a US base, noted that a "large number of Saudi graduates of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola" are involved in US military operations worldwide.

The Pensacola military base serves as a major training and education site for the Navy. It employs more than 16,000 military personnel and 7,400 civilian workers, according to the Navy's website.