Jubeir said security forces spent several hours securing the area and evacuating the wounded.
Other accounts from the scene differed on some specifics. One witness said bursts of gunfire continued until 2:15 p.m. Ambulances continued to leave the scene after 3:45 p.m., the witness said.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday December 08, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Consulate attack -- The byline on an article in Tuesday's Section A about the assault by militants on the U.S. Consulate in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, gave the name of journalist Ramzi E. Khoury as Rami G. Khouri.
Senior Saudi and U.S. officials said one security guard had been killed in the attack. But earlier, Saudi security officials on the scene said two consulate guards had been killed in the first moments of the attack.
Consulate employees said the U.S. facility, like others around the country, has been thinly staffed recently. Families of American employees had been urged to leave for security reasons, and some foreign service employees preferred to leave the country rather than remain without their families, consulate employees said.
U.S. officials in Washington said the consulate was at its "full complement" of employees, but they would not give numbers. There were no dependents of consulate staff at the compound, Ereli said.
"The only injury we sustained is great shock," one consulate employee, who asked not to be identified, told a reporter after the attack. "You cannot believe what we were feeling, locked in and knowing that we were under attack. I just hope I will never see such a day again."
Another employee, reached by telephone at 12:10 p.m., told a reporter: "We are under attack. If I live, you are invited for dinner."
In the last major attack in Saudi Arabia, 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in an assault on two businesses and a residential compound in Khobar in May. A month later, an American engineer, Paul. M. Johnson Jr., was captured and beheaded by terrorists believed linked to Al Qaeda.
Saudi extremists have increasingly targeted Americans and other Westerners because earlier attacks that killed Saudis backfired, undercutting their support in the country. The militants' goal is to drive the United States and foreigners out of the kingdom and to undermine the ruling Saud family.
One Saudi official said the consulate assault was "pretty amateurish" because of the way the attackers attempted to pierce the high security around the consulate.
But Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said the attackers seemed to have taken some care preparing for the assault.
"It's quite clear that those terrorists who attacked our consulate in Jidda had observed our procedures for some time," Armitage told reporters in Washington. "Clearly, we'll do an after-action report and we'll take any remedial activity that is necessary."
Edward Walker Jr., former assistant secretary of State for the Middle East, said the attack stood out because of the way that "it very blatantly targeted America."
Walker, who is president of the Middle East Institute, added that the incident would probably have the effect of "reinforcing the cooperation we have with the Saudis on this. If the idea was to disrupt the relationship, they've got the wrong idea."
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Series of assaults
Some attacks on Westerners in Saudi Arabia in recent years:
June 25, 1996: Bomb kills 19 U.S. soldiers, wounds nearly 400 people at U.S. military housing complex in Khobar.
May 12, 2003: Suicide bombers attack housing compounds for foreign workers in Riyadh. Thirty-five are killed, including nine bombers, and 200 wounded.
Nov. 8: Suicide bombers blow up Riyadh compound housing foreigners and Saudis, killing at least 18.
May 1, 2004: Gunmen kill five Westerners in attack on oil office in Yanbu; four attackers and one policeman also died.
May 29: Militants attack oil company and housing compounds in Khobar. Seven Saudi policemen and 22 civilians are killed.
June 6: Simon Cumbers, an Irish cameraman working for the BBC, is shot dead in Riyadh.
June 8: Gunmen kill American Robert Jacob, of Vinnell Corp., in Riyadh.
June 12: American Kenneth Scroggs is shot dead in Riyadh. Al Qaeda claims responsibility.
June 18: Kidnappers behead Lockheed Martin employee Paul M. Johnson Jr.
Aug. 3: An Irish civil engineer, Tony Christopher, is shot dead in Riyadh.
Sept. 15: Edward Muirhead-Smith, a British engineer, is killed in Riyadh in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda.
Sept. 26: Frenchman Laurent Barbot is shot dead in Jidda.
Dec. 6: Militants storm the U.S. consulate in Jidda, killing five.
Source: Reuters, Times Reports
Times staff writer Richter reported from Washington and special correspondent Khouri from Jidda. Staff writer Megan K. Stack in Tehran contributed to this report.