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Last Updated: Monday, 3 May, 2004, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Foreign staff to leave Saudi city
Two British men leave a hotel in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
The company's foreign staff asked to leave
The Western firm targeted in a gun attack that killed five foreigners in the Saudi Arabian port city of Yanbu is evacuating its foreign staff.

Two Americans, two Britons, an Australian and a Saudi national died in Saturday's attack at the offices of ABB-Lummus.

The engineering firm was working on a project for the US company Exxon-Mobil.

All 90 foreign staff and 30 dependents in the city would leave as soon as possible, a company spokesman said.

Most of them are American but they include Britons, Australians, Filipinos and Indians, he said.

"Our people on the ground have had meetings with the employees who were there and asked them if they would agree to stay if we beefed up security... or whether they would prefer to leave," ABB's Bjorn Edlund told AP news agency.

"Not surprisingly, everybody wanted to go home."

The company, which has its headquarters in Houston, Texas, said its work on a petrochemical plant would stop.

Security measures

The foreigners who died were all senior managers in the firm. Another three foreigners - an American, a Canadian and a Pakistani - were wounded.

At least 25 Saudis were also reported wounded.

Security forces pursued and shot dead all four attackers, who had fled the scene, the authorities said.

Map of Saudi Arabia showing Yanbu
Saudi media reported that television pictures of an attacker's body showed one of the country's top 10 most wanted al-Qaeda suspects.

If true, this shows that the attack was not carried out by local gunmen but was a deliberate attempt by the militants to strike at the kingdom's petrochemical industry, says the BBC's Middle East correspondent Paul Wood.

Security has been stepped up in Yanbu, with extra police and checkpoints throughout the city - measures supposed to reassure Western workers, our correspondent says.

However, the US embassy in Riyadh and its consulate in Jeddah have repeated warnings for Americans to leave the kingdom.

'Iron fist'

Despite official denials, more eyewitnesses have emerged to say that one of the victims was taken from the ABB office, tied to the back of a car and dragged through the streets.

It is said the vehicle was driven into the car park of a Saudi boys' school.

There the gunmen fired into the air to attract attention before shouting: "God is great, come to join your brothers in Falluja."

One of the schoolboys watching said the men pointed to the bloodied and badly damaged corpse, screaming: "This is the American president."

Crown Prince Abdullah, the leading Saudi royal, has promised to use an "iron fist" to crush terrorism.

He also Jewish interests were behind the attacks.

It is not clear if those were remarks for domestic consumption or if that really is the Saudi assessment of the source of violence in the kingdom, our correspondent says.

Saudi Arabia has seen a year-long wave of Islamist militancy, targeting mainly foreigners.

More than 50 people have been killed in suicide bombings in the capital Riyadh, including an attack on a security building last month.

However, this was the first known attack by anti-Western groups on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia.

What do you think can be done to reduce the violence in Saudi Arabia? Do you live in the affected areas? Have you been forced to leave your home? Send us your experiences.

The Americans showed no respect in public for the traditions and life-style of the Saudis
Peter, South Africa

First, get all Americans out of the country. I lived there for two happy years but was continually appalled by the public behaviour of the Americans who showed no respect in public for the traditions and life-style of the Saudis, and a great deal of arrogance. Second, take a firm stand against US/Israeli policy, unite the Muslim world (if possible), use the oil weapon in the war in Palestine. Third, show the world of Islam that the House of Saudi is not close to, or tied to, the US.
Peter, South Africa

Bush & Blair Have started an unjust cultural war, and it is spreading. We need a new leadership to take us out of this.
Omar, Mogadisho, Somalia

The west must pursue an even handed policy in Israel/Palestine
Richard Mullens, England
It is clear, that in order to reduce the violence in Saudi Arabia, the west must pursue an even handed policy in Israel/Palestine. In addition, Bush and Blair, and their immediate entourages - for example the war cabinet, should be indicted for starting an illegal war and causing the unnecessary deaths of many foreign citizens and our own armed forces.
Richard Mullens, England

The Saudi despotic rulers should listen to their citizens rather than bend over backwards to please Bush & Co. Unless they come to their senses soon, their times are just about up. Ask any ordinary Saudi or Arab.
Gul Zaman, Auckland, New Zealand

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