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Curacao searches for attackers in airport shooting

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Police in Curacao scoured the arid Dutch Caribbean island Wednesday hunting for gunmen who sprayed bullets at the arrivals area of the international airport, killing two people and wounding six.

Two local men were gunned down in the drive-by shooting late Tuesday at Curacao International Airport in the capital of Willemstad. The six wounded were reported in stable condition.

Curacao's government said no tourists had been shot, describing the shooting as an "isolated incident" involving local residents. No motive had been disclosed by investigators.

The international airport was open Wednesday.

The bloodshed unleashed a tide of emotion on the island of roughly 150,000 people. Officials have been struggling for years to contain drug smuggling rings but this kind of violence is relatively rare.

"Curacao is deeply saddened with what took place last night," Prime Minister Ivar Asjes said in a statement. Local officials are providing assistance and support "to anyone on the island that might require it," he added.

Police detectives recovered two handguns at the shooting scene and a number of spent bullet casings. Police said the unidentified gunmen sped off in two cars, but authorities released few other details of the investigation and the hunt for suspects on the small island about 40 miles off Venezuela.

The autonomous country within the Dutch kingdom is best known for its diving opportunities and a historic city center that is a U.N. World Heritage site. It is also an offshore financial center offering banking secrecy and a transshipment point for narcotics from South America bound for the U.S. and Europe.

Last year, Curacao had 22 homicides, down from 45 in 2002. Among the 2013 slayings was the unsolved assassination of influential lawmaker Helmin Wiels, who was shot to death on a beach as he socialized and sipped a beer.

David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

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