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The BBC's Frank Gardner in Riyadh
"These are tense times in the Middle East"
 real 28k

Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 16:43 GMT
Saudi blast 'baffles' investigators
Saudi police sealed off the busy city centre intersection
An explosion which killed a British engineer has baffled investigators in Saudi Arabia.

Christopher Rodway died when his car exploded as he drove through the capital Riyadh with his wife Jane.

She only suffered superficial injuries.

The Foreign Office is treating it as a deliberate and serious attack but the Saudi authorities have suggested the motives could have been personal.

We do not know whether it was a bomb or not

UK Foreign Office

It was not immediately clear what caused the blast but speculation centred on reports that the couple's car was booby-trapped or a small bomb was tossed through the window.

A Foreign Office spokesman said:"We do not know whether it was a bomb or not but it is clear there was some kind of explosion."

The explosion is reported to have occurred at about 1320 (0920 GMT) directly after Friday prayers.

'Quiet man'

Witnesses said that said Mr Rodway, who lost two limbs in the blast, had been alive when he was pulled from the wreckage of the four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The British embassy in Riyadh said Mr Rodway had no connection with the British government.

The ex-patriate engineer was known as a quiet man, who worked for Riyadh military hospital.
Map of Saudi Arabia
Mr Rodway had lived in Saudi Arabia for eight years

BBC Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner said there was strong suspicion in Riyadh that the attack was politically motivated.

Many Saudis are angry at the West's perceived bias against Arab countries like Iraq.

A bomb was thrown at the British Embassy in the Yemeni capital of San'a five weeks ago.

'Personal motive'

No one was hurt in the attack, which came shortly after an apparent suicide bombing which killed 17 sailors on the USS Cole as it refuelled in the port Aden, in southern Yemen.

Friday's explosion occurred shortly before Crown Prince Abdullah was due to open an international energy conference in Riyadh, attended by US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and officials from more than 40 oil producing and exporting countries.

But Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister has played down ideas of political motives for the attack on Mr Rodway and has suggested the reason could have been personal.

Investigators have searched the couple's house and neighbour's car for further bombs but found nothing.

The Rodways' damaged car was taken for a full forensic search.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | Middle East
Briton killed in Saudi blast
17 Nov 00 | Business
Tough talking at energy forum
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
The West in danger
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