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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Saudi police to get danger money
Saudi police officers
Several Saudi police officers have been killed in recent attacks
Saudi Arabia's King Fahd has ordered a 25% pay rise for police units involved in trying to combat terrorism.

Several policemen have been killed in the past few weeks in bombings and clashes with Islamist militants.

The rise came as special forces backed by helicopters and armoured cars launched an operation against militants north-west of the capital, Riyadh.

One of the targets was reported to be the head of al-Qaeda operations in the Gulf, Abdulaziz al-Moqrin.

In a royal decree it was announced that King Fahd wanted to reward those who took part in such operations and to "encourage our sons who make sacrifices in the operations to combat terrorism".

[Saudi-based militants are] a stray, deviant group overcome by Satan who want to shake security, scare the faithful and destroy innocent souls
King Fahd
It said the bonus would be paid to security forces, intelligence officers and other supporting units.

It follows last Wednesday's suicide bombing of a traffic police and emergency forces building that killed at least five people including a senior police officer.

The al-Haramain Brigades, a group linked to the al-Qaeda network, claimed to be behind the blast.

In another attack earlier this month, at least five policemen were killed in gunfights in Riyadh and Qassim province.

On Friday, Saudi forces killed five people and captured a sixth in Jeddah. The interior ministry said four of the five dead were on the government's list of 26 most wanted terror suspects.

King Fahd told a cabinet meeting on Monday that the militants were "a stray, deviant group overcome by Satan who want to shake security, scare the faithful and destroy innocent souls".

'Bomb mastermind'

In the latest operation against the Islamists, about 200 security forces were surrounding a 5-sq-km (2-sq-mile) area, while helicopters tried to find their exact location, a security source told the AP news agency.

Witnesses said al-Hassayah, a town 30km from Riyadh, had been cordoned off by police.

A security official said Mr Moqrin was believed to be holed up there with four or five associates.

Mr Moqrin is Saudi Arabia's most wanted militant, and is believed by US and Saudi officials to be the mastermind behind the bombing of a Riyadh housing compound that killed 17 people in November.

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