First Published: 2004-06-30

Three killed in deadly clashes in Riyadh

Saudi policeman, two suspected Islamic militants killed in heavy armed clashes in Al-Quds area.


Middle East Online

Saudi police still hunting Islamist militants

RIYADH - A Saudi policemen and two suspected Islamic militants were killed in a heavy exchange of gunfire Wednesday in Riyadh, a police officer on the scene said, revising an earlier death toll of four.

Another three security men were wounded, one of them seriously, along with two civilians, the policemen said, correcting an earlier statement that two security men were among four people killed.

The clashes, involving five militants, broke out in the capital's eastern Al-Quds area. An AFP correspondent there saw two of the vehicles which had been carrying the militants and which had been destroyed.

Security forces were still pursuing a third vehicle, the policeman said.

Witnesses earlier said they saw four bodies at the site of the clashes while two helicopters hovered overhead.

The clashes broke out after security forces discovered a house used by the five suspects in the capital's King Fahd neighbourhood.

The suspects were followed as they left the house in three cars, the policeman said.

Stocks of arms and ammunition were seen being taken out of the house.

Wednesday's was the first reported incident of unrest in the kingdom since authorities declared an official amnesty for Al-Qaeda supporters on June 23.

Muslim extremists have staged a wave of deadly attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, more recently targeting Westerners.

Al-Qaeda extremists were offered the amnesty if they turned themselves in within a month and were warned that those who did not would face a harsh crackdown.

The amnesty guarantees personal safety and the dropping of all charges for those who repent. It reserves the right of individuals harmed by terror acts to either seek redress through the courts or waive any claims.

The offer of a pardon came close on the heels of the June 18 killing of Al-Qaeda's local chief, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, and three of his henchmen after websites posted photos of an American hostage they had beheaded.

One of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, a renegade former non-commissioned army officer, on Monday became the second Islamic militant to take advantage of the amnesty offer.

Othman Hadi al-Maqbul al-Aamri, 37, gave himself up at his home village of Beni Amr after two years on the run.

An interior ministry list of Saudi's most wanted has seen 11 of the 26 listed militants either killed or jailed in a massive crackdown that has also seen hundreds arrested and an escalation of violence.

Saudi Arabia has sought to assure Westerners that their security was a top priority for officials, who have recently multiplied words of comfort to expatriates fearful the spate of attacks is not over.

"We will assume our responsibilities to ensure their safety and security the same as the security and safety of our citizens," said Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal after meeting Western ambassadors on Sunday.

He underlined that the Saudi government was prepared to allow foreigners to carry guns.


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