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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 17:37 GMT
Saudi bombs 'linked'
Riyadh streets
Two bombs exploded on the streets of Riyadh
By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

The two car bombs that blew up in Riyadh during the last week were similar and basic devices, according to Saudi authorities.

One Briton was killed and three more were injured in the bombings.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for either explosion, but the Foreign Office has advised Britons in the country to be extra vigilant.

Most Saudis now believe the attacks were politically motivated.

Playing it down

Saudi Arabia's deputy interior minister, Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul-Aziz, told the Saudi daily paper, Al-Riyadh, that some of the bomb's ingredients may have been imported and then assembled locally.

I cannot say they are targeted because they are British but the circumstances of both explosions are similar.

Saudi deputy interior minister

The Saudi Government has sought to play down the explosions which both took place in the capital Riyadh.

They have suggested that the motives may have been personal, but most Saudis now believe otherwise.

West's 'double standards'

A leading Saudi dissident based in London, Dr Saad Al-Faqih, says he believes the car bombs were planted by small local groups with a grudge against the West.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia should be... vigilant and keep in touch with developments.

British nationals in Islamic countries... should exercise particular caution given heightened tension in the Middle East.

Foreign Office travel advice
He says these groups do not have the resources to mount a major attack like the one last month on a US warship in Aden harbour.

Instead, he says, they have gone for soft targets like British expatriates to show their anger at Western policies in the Middle East.

Even wealthy law-abiding Saudis have been disgusted by what they see as the West's double standards in the region.

In particular they accuse the United States of supporting Israel against the Palestinians while expecting the Arab Gulf states to help enforce sanctions on Iraq.

US and UK 'indistinguishable'

Quite why British ex-patriots may have been targeted is not clear.

On Monday the British ambassador in Riyadh made a point of visiting Palestinians recovering in hospital from Israeli gunshot wounds.

Britain has also tried to steer a middle course in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But as Dr Saad Al-Faqih points out, many Saudis find Americans and Britons indistinguishable, both in appearance and in political persuasion.

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See also:

23 Nov 00 | Middle East
New Saudi car blast
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
The West in danger
17 Nov 00 | Middle East
Briton killed in Saudi blast
23 Nov 00 | Middle East
UK helps probe Saudi bomb
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