[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Saudis 'find head' of US hostage
Scene of the raid
Two suspected militants were reported killed in the raid
The head of a US man kidnapped and killed in Saudi Arabia has been found in a police raid, Saudi officials say.

The head of Paul Johnson was discovered in a refrigerator during a police raid on an apartment in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the interior ministry said.

Johnson was abducted by an al-Qaeda cell on 12 June. Photographs of his beheading were published on an Islamist website six days later.

His family had appealed for more news about the whereabouts of his body.

QUICK GUIDE

Johnson, who was from New Jersey, had been working as a helicopter engineer in Saudi Arabia for US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

Riyadh raid

Security forces also found a surface-to-air missile, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles, pistols, hand grenades, ammunition, computers, cash and nitrates and aluminium powder.

The discoveries were made after Saudi police stormed an apartment in Riyadh, killing two suspected militants, the interior ministry said.

It said three militants were arrested after being injured in the attack.

The raid in the capital's King Fahd District also led to the arrest of the wife and children of al-Qaeda's local chief, Saleh al-Oufi, officials said.

It is not known if Oufi himself was involved in the fighting, which is said to have started when security forces investigating the property came under fire.

Family appeal

Mr Oufi, a former policeman, became al-Qaeda's Saudi Arabia chief after the death of his predecessor, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin.

Paul Johnson
Mr Johnson's family had pleaded with militants to release him

Muqrin was reportedly killed in a shoot-out with security forces, sparked by the sighting of a car-load of militants attempting to dispose of a corpse, thought to have been that of Paul Johnson.

The Saudi interior minister later said Johnson's body had not been found.

Johnson's family had appealed to US authorities to push the Saudi government to end the confusion surrounding the body.

Graphic images

Militants appearing on a video with a blindfolded Johnson in June had demanded that Saudi Arabia release prisoners arrested for links to radical Muslim groups.

After the deadline for their demands passed, graphic images of Johnson's beheading appeared on a website linked to Islamist militants.

Johnson was the second US civilian to have been beheaded by his abductors in the region this year.

Nick Berg, a US businessman who went missing in Iraq, was shown being beheaded by masked militants on a website linked to Islamist causes.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt
"Paul Johnson... worked for US contractor Lockheed Martin"



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific