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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Says Kyrgyz Man to Blame in Shooting

ReutersFriends and relatives grieving over the body of Ivanov in Bishkek on Friday.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — A U.S. Air Force serviceman who fatally shot a Kyrgyz civilian had been threatened with a knife and responded as his training required, the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan said Friday.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev called for the immunity of U.S. troops deployed in Kyrgyzstan to be lifted after Alexander Ivanov, 42, a truck driver, was shot and killed.

The Manas Air Base said in a statement that the U.S. airman fired at Ivanov after the driver threatened him with a knife during a security check Wednesday at the base's entrance.

"If a security force member's life is threatened, they are trained to expend two shots to the upper torso, center mass to ensure the highest opportunity to neutralize the threat," the statement said.

"Security forces are taught to act immediately and instinctively based on extensive training," it said. Kyrgyz police said a knife was found at the scene of the incident.

The air-base statement said the U.S. airman, whom Kyrgyz authorities identified as Zachary Hatfield, remained in Kyrgyzstan while an investigation was under way.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry on Thursday delivered a note to the U.S. Embassy demanding that the airman's immunity be lifted. Status of Forces Agreements in many countries where U.S. military personnel are stationed grant them varying levels of legal immunity.

About 200 family members and well-wishers attended Ivanov's funeral Friday, including U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and the Manas Air Base commander, U.S. Air Force Colonel Joel Reese.

Ivanov's son, Denis, 15, fainted twice during the ceremony.

His other son, Vadim, 20, said he did not believe his father could have threatened anyone. "He told me often that American soldiers behaved insolently and unceremoniously," he said.

"I want only one thing: that the guilty man be punished," he said.