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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 05:34 GMT
Saudis renew vow to fight terror
Smoke rises from US consulate in Jeddah
No Americans were hurt in the attack on the fortified US consulate
Saudi Arabian authorities have reiterated their determination to crush Islamic militants following an attack on the US consulate in Jeddah.

Five non-US staff and four attackers were killed when gunmen used explosives to break into the compound.

The Saudi cabinet condemned the attack and reaffirmed its pledge to "fight terrorism in all its aspects".

A group claiming to be the Saudi wing of al-Qaeda said it carried out Monday's attack.

The group "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula" said in a statement posted on a militant website that the operation had been dubbed "the blessed Falluja battle".

The Iraqi city of Falluja was recently the scene of a large-scale assault against insurgents by US-led forces.

Three of the attackers were killed at the scene, and one died later in hospital. A fifth gunmen was arrested.

The five consular staff who died were from a range of Asian and Arab nations, although exact details remain unclear.

In Riyadh, US embassy spokeswoman Carol Kalin said four of the five held administrative jobs, and one was a private contract guard on the consulate's payroll.

Smoke could be seen rising from the compound
Ben Abu Ismail, Jeddah

All Americans who were at the consulate have been reported to be safe.

US President George W Bush said the attack showed "terrorists are still on the move", trying to force the US to withdraw from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

"They want us to grow timid and weary in the face of their willingness to kill randomly," he said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the US would not be deterred from its fight against terrorism.

In a statement, the Saudi cabinet promised to "hunt down its [terrorism's] perpetrators until they are rooted out and society is cleaned of them".

A Saudi security source told Reuters news agency that heavy security had prevented the militants from getting into the consulate by car. They instead fought their way in using grenades and automatic weapons.

The compound was then stormed by the security forces.

Saudi security officials initially said four Saudi guards were killed and two others wounded in the clash.

But Adel al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, later said that no Saudi troops had died.

Nov 1995: Seven killed in blast near US facility in Riyadh
June 1996: Bomb kills 19 US soldiers at Khobar complex
May 2003: Bombers target Riyadh compounds, killing 35
Nov 2003: Suicide bomb kills 17 at Riyadh housing complex
April 2004: Bomber kills five in Riyadh government building
May 2004: Seven die in attack on US firm in Yanbu
May 2004: Attack on oil firm compound in Khobar kills 30

A consular employee told the Associated Press news agency that staff had been rushed to a safe area in the building.

"We could hear the gunshots outside, but we didn't know what was going on," the employee said.

Correspondents say security around the consulate has been extremely tight since a series of bombings by Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia began in 2003, mainly targeting buildings that house foreigners.

Previous operations targeting Western interests have been blamed on groups inspired by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, which wants to drive all non-Muslims out of the kingdom.

The last major attack was in May, when gunmen attacked oil companies and a housing compound in the eastern city of Khobar, killing about 30 people.

Three gunmen were killed and two arrested

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Eyewitness: Attack in Jeddah
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Timeline: Saudi attacks
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Analysis: Saudi security questions
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Saudi Arabia: Political overview
07 Jun 04 |  Middle East

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