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Al Qaeda Leaders Reported Killed

Two top militants were among the 14 slain in a battle with Saudi forces, state-run TV says.

April 06, 2005|From Associated Press

RASS, Saudi Arabia — Security forces stormed a walled compound Tuesday where Islamic militants were barricaded, and two top leaders of the Saudi branch of Al Qaeda were among 14 extremists who were killed, state-run television said.

At least six were captured during three days of heavy fighting in the desert town of Rass, the network said, citing security officials' reports on the death toll. Fourteen members of the security forces were reported wounded.

"There was no chance for anyone to escape. We got them all," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour Turki said.

Turki would not confirm the number of people killed and captured.

For nearly 48 hours, as many as 10 gunmen who survived initial fighting Sunday were reportedly holed up with a large arsenal.

Surrounded by hundreds of Saudi special forces, they unleashed volleys of automatic weapons fire and grenades.

It was called the longest single gun battle against the largest band of militants Saudi forces have faced in a two-year crackdown, and the highest number of militant casualties in a single fight.

The dead from the Rass fighting included Nos. 4 and 7 on Saudi Arabia's list of 26 most-wanted terrorists -- Moroccan Kareem Altohami Mojati and Saudi Saud Homood Obaid Otaibi, a leading figure in Al Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region -- a senior military official in Rass said on condition of anonymity.

Mojati, who had been in Afghanistan, was sent to Saudi Arabia by Osama bin Laden sometime after 2001 to help build Al Qaeda's network there, former militants said.

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