OLONGAPO, Philippines — A suspected Communist gunman shot and killed a U.S. Marine sergeant outside the American-run Subic Bay naval complex, prompting officials Saturday to restrict travel by all U.S. military personnel in the Philippines as a precaution.
The U.S. Navy identified the slain American as Gunnery Sgt. John S. Fredette, 34, of Buena Park, Calif. He was attached to the 323rd Marine Fighter Squadron based in El Toro, Calif., and was on temporary duty at Subic.
Philippine police said Fredette was killed by a single bullet in the back of his head while he was walking at 11:30 p.m. Friday in the liberty city of Olongapo, 50 miles northwest of Manila.
In Manila, U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Platt "expressed shock and sorrow at the cowardly murder" of Fredette, an embassy statement said. It said U.S. officials were in touch with Philippine authorities regarding the investigation of the case.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but police suspected Communist guerrillas. Fredette would be the ninth U.S. victim of a rebel terror strike since October, 1987 and the first in Olongapo.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Mukree said off-base travel for the 40,000 military and Defense Department employees and their dependents was restricted after the shooting.
Mukree said Fredette was shot by "an unknown assailant" and refused to elaborate. But Philippine police officials believed the Communist New People's Army was behind the killing.
The attack came nine days before the start of exploratory talks on the future of six U.S. facilities in the Philippines, including the giant Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay Naval Base. The leases expire next year, and there is considerable sentiment in the Philippines not to renew them.
Eight Americans have been killed in the Philippines since October, 1987, in attacks blamed on Communist guerrillas.