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Page last updated at 00:51 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2003

'Bomber drove a police car'

Sohal al Halabi shows the devastation of his family home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Doors have been blown off and glass litters the compound
As police comb through the wreckage of the Muhaya compound in Riyadh, residents are returning to salvage their passports, clothes and other personal possessions.

Six villas out of the 200 on the site were flattened in the bomb attack late on Saturday.

Windows are shattered, doors are blown off while furniture litters the area.

An AFP correspondent saw the twisted hulk of a vehicle located in a crater around two metres (six feet) deep.

More than a dozen cars, including one with diplomatic licence plates, were gutted.

Gunfire

Witnesses have told correspondents the bomber drove a police vehicle seemingly stolen from security forces.

"A car laden with explosives succeeded in penetrating the fortified compound surrounded by cement blocks," a security officer said.

Debris at site of Riyadh blast
A number of homes were completely destroyed
"The car blew up inside the compound," he added, but said he did not know if one suicide bomber or more were involved.

Compound owner Mohammad Saleh al-Muhaya said gunmen opened fire from a nearby hill before the jeep drove in.

A Sudanese guard named Assi Makki Zain was shot dead, he added.

"About 30 men from the Saudi National Guard were deployed in the area."

Fear

As fires raged at the Muhaya compound following the blast, eyewitnesses told of the bloodshed.

"I am extremely terrified; I am really scared... there is a lot of blood," one woman living in the compound said.

Residents near the blast site
Many people were out late at night because of the holy month of Ramadan
Hanadi al-Ghandaki, the complex's manager, who was there when the blast occurred, told Al-Arabiya TV that most of the casualties were children.

"Most adults were outside the compound at that time," she said.

A Saudi official said many parents would have been out shopping as it is Ramadan - when shops and markets are closed during the day.

Ms al-Ghandaki said she had heard gunfire followed by "a second blast minutes later".

Anger

Security forces reportedly said they had seen "strange cars" inside the compound but did not elaborate further.

There is anger in Riyadh over the bombing which mainly claimed Arab lives and occurred during Ramadan.

"What Islam is this? They are terrorists," said Hamdan Youssef, a 39-year-old businessman.

Hospital sources say that a 21-year-old Saudi was killed after he fell from a bridge as he tried to see the devastation caused by the bomb attack.



SEE ALSO
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
15 Sep 03 |  Country profiles
UK reviews Saudi security
08 Nov 03 |  UK
Saudi shock over 'foiled attack'
04 Nov 03 |  Middle East
Timeline: Saudi Arabia
07 Nov 03 |  Country profiles

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