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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Saudis arrest more bombing suspects
A Saudi police officer guards a bomb scene in Riyadh on 15 May 2003
Saudi authorities have been trying to crack down on al-Qaeda
A total of 21 people are being held by the authorities in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of involvement in the Riyadh bombings, the country's interior minister has said.

Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said 11 of the detainees - including three clerics believed to sympathise with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network - were arrested in the holy city of Medina.

He denied reports that two of the clerics had been killed during attempts to arrest them, before adding: "Those who claim to be clerics and issue religious edicts are far from that - in reality, they are worthless."

Thirty-four people, including nine bombers, died in the 12 May suicide attacks on Western compounds in the Saudi capital.

Prince Nayef declined to confirm reports that the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Ali Abdulrahman al-Ghamdi, was among the detainees.

The minister also said that Saudi police had identified six of the nine bodies of the bombers who carried out the attacks.

Four of them belonged to a group of 19 suspected members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network who escaped arrest days before the Riyadh attack, he added.

Security forces raided the cell's hide-out ahead of the attacks, but the suspects escaped after a gun battle.

Warning of fresh attacks

The US and Saudi Governments have blamed al-Qaeda for the bombings.

The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, has warned that there is no indication that the Riyadh bombings, in which eight US citizens died, were a one-off attack.

He said: "Al-Qaeda have a very real activity in the kingdom.

"We are not convinced that the threats are over. They have many other cells, not only the cells which did the attacks."


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