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4 People Killed in Saudi Shootout

August 13, 2003|From Times Wire Services

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Three police officers and a suspected militant were killed Tuesday in a shootout that began when the officers came under heavy machine-gun fire as they checked an illegally parked truck, the Interior Ministry said.

After the police were fired on from a nearby car, more officers arrived. Two other police and one suspect were wounded, and several suspects were arrested.

The incident occurred in Shubra, a western suburb of the capital, Riyadh, said a ministry statement read on Saudi television.

The truck was confiscated and investigations are continuing, the statement said. Parts of the neighborhood were cordoned off late Tuesday and helicopters circled the neighborhood.

Facing U.S. accusations of laxity in tackling Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia has cracked down harder on Islamic militants after May 12 suicide bombings that targeted compounds housing foreigners in Riyadh. Washington and Riyadh blame Al Qaeda for the bombings, which killed 35 people, including nine attackers.

Police have arrested more than 200 suspects since then.

Six militants were killed July 28 in a police raid on a farm in northeastern Saudi Arabia -- the biggest militant death toll in clashes since the May bombings.

On July 21, authorities said they had arrested 16 militants planning attacks on Saudi installations.

Last month, Interior Minister Prince Nayif ibn Abdulaziz said the kingdom would eliminate Muslim militants spreading terror just as one would remove a "sick body organ."

Western sources in Saudi Arabia say the authorities are providing unprecedented cooperation.

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