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 Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 17:59 GMT
Gunmen flee after Saudi shooting
Saudi soldiers
Saudi Arabia does not tolerate dissent
Saudi security forces are hunting for four gunmen who killed a Kuwaiti man and wounded three Saudis during a police check in the capital Riyadh.

The Saudi interior ministry said the shooting happened on Friday night at an apartment block in Riyadh's Al-Masyaf neighbourhood.

The leader of the main Saudi Islamic opposition movement in London described the incident as a police raid on a group of "pro-jihad (holy war)" men.

An interior ministry statement carried by the official Saudi news agency SPA said police came under fire when they went to check the identities of several suspects at the complex, and two officers were wounded.

One policeman was hit in the thigh, another in the foot, preventing them from pursuing the gunmen.

As the gunmen fled the apartment they also shot a Kuwaiti national who had left his apartment to see what was going on, the statement said.

Kuwaiti suspect Sami Al-Muteri
Saudi Arabia handed over a suspected gunman to Kuwait

A Saudi man standing outside his home near the complex was also lightly wounded in the shooting, it added.

The shooting happened a day after Saudi Arabia extradited a self-confessed Kuwaiti supporter of the al-Qaeda network, who admitted ambushing two Americans near the main US army base in Kuwait.

One American was killed, the other seriously wounded in the incident.


Sa'd al-Faqih, head of the London-based opposition Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (Mira), said the Saudi police raid on Friday targeted suspected al-Qaeda members.

In an interview with Qatari-based al-Jazeera television, he claimed that Saudi police morale had "collapsed" since "pro-jihad men" had received a fatwa, or religious decree, "ordering them not to surrender or be taken prisoner".

Osama Bin Laden
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Their religious leaders had told them "to use weapons only if the police attack them," Mr al-Faqih said.

All but four of the 19 men who carried out the 11 September suicide attacks in the United States are believed to have been Saudis.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden - accused of masterminding the attacks - was born in Saudi Arabia.

Commenting on the Riyadh shooting, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister, Prince Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz, said the authorities were still holding about 200 people suspected of links with al-Qaeda.

But he told the newspaper Al-Riyadh that the authorities had not yet identified the four gunmen - believed to be Saudis.

See also:

23 Jan 03 | Middle East
07 Dec 02 | Middle East
28 Nov 02 | Middle East
03 Dec 02 | Middle East
26 Nov 02 | Middle East
24 Nov 02 | Americas
02 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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