M A I N   N E W S

Terror strikes Saudi Arabia
Attack on US consulate leaves three assailants, 4 guards dead

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6
Muslim militants stormed the heavily fortified US consulate in here today before security forces shot dead three of them and captured two.

An Interior Ministry official said in a statement on Saudi television that security forces had regained control. Security sources said the attackers had killed four Saudi guards, but there was no official confirmation of this.

A US spokeswoman said there were no US casualties in the attack, first major assault by suspected Al Qaida militants in the kingdom since May.

“Members of the deviant group this morning threw explosives at the gate of the US consulate in Jeddah and then entered the compound,” the Interior Ministry official said, using the government’s language for militants loyal to Saudi-born Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“The security forces dealt with the situation and managed to control it. Three of the attackers were killed and two were arrested after they were wounded,” he said. Witnesses said the militants had hauled down the US flag and burned it after bursting into the mission.

A US embassy spokeswoman said no US diplomats had been killed, wounded or taken hostage in the attack. “We have accounted for all American diplomats on the compound in Jeddah. There were no American casualties. None are being held hostage. Our local workforce was also on duty this morning. We are still in the process of accounting for all of them,” spokeswoman Carol Kalin said.

She said two local staff members had been wounded. The security sources said initially the gunmen had taken 18 local staffers hostage, but diplomats said they might have been trapped in the building during the shootout. The sources said all staff in the consulate were now safe. One of the sources said heavy security had prevented the attackers from getting into the compound by car. They had shot their way in on foot through a side entrance.

It was the first big assault in Saudi Arabia since Al Qaida militants attacked oil companies and a housing compound in the eastern city of Khobar in May, when at least 22 foreigners and seven security men were killed.

Gunmen have killed several individual foreigners since then, while Saudi forces have hit back with a crackdown, which has killed or captured some leading militants. — Reuters


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