Wounded Marine Evacuated to Germany
DURRES, Albania (AP) _ A U.S. Marine who was shot and critically wounded in a bar on the eve of the first joint military exercise of Albanian and NATO forces was evacuated from this Adriatic port Saturday.
Police arrested a 24-year-old Albanian suspect in the shooting, which occurred Friday night and slightly wounded a second Marine.
Doctors from the U.S. warship Ponce, that anchored in Durres on Thursday, assisted Albanian doctors in a seven-hour operation on the severely wounded, 20-year-old Marine. Surgeons removed his left kidney and spleen, but could not retrieve the bullet. Albanian doctors said his life remained in danger.
The patient was taken by helicopter Saturday evening to a nearby airport for evacuation to Germany aboard a medical plane. The other Marine, who was shot in the arm, also was evacuated.
Their names and hometowns were not disclosed pending notification of relatives.
The incident cast a pall over the first exercise between Albanian soldiers and American, Italian, German and British troops _ all of them NATO forces, which Albanians were taught to fear and hate during the half-century of Communist rule.
Albanian state television identified the suspect arrested Saturday as Ermir Dervishi. TV said he had fired seven bullets from outside the ``Olimpic″ bar.
Ground and air exercises went ahead Saturday, but the sea exercise was postponed until Sunday.
Gen. Sheme Kosova, chief of Albania’s general staff, said the shooting was an isolated act with no bearing on U.S.-Albanian relations.
Capt. Daniel Sherange, the Ponce’s commander, praised Albanian police and surgeons.