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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 16:41 GMT
Saudi militant 'held' after clash
Saudi security force member
Saudi Arabia has been combating extremists for two years
The Saudi authorities say they have captured one of the kingdom's most wanted Islamist militants after gun battles in which five policemen died.

He was named as Muhammad Suwailmi, who was number seven on a list of 36 wanted militants published six months ago.

Two officers died when he opened fire from his car near Buraida, the capital of Qassim province, police said.

Three more policemen were reportedly killed when he was stopped at a roadblock before being arrested.

It is the worst bloodshed for months in a violent campaign by Muslim extremists trying to overthrow the government.

A second man is reported to have escaped from the clashes.

An interior ministry source said Mr Suwailmi was "considered as one of the terrorist leaders".

The ultra-conservative northern Qassim province has been the scene of several shootouts with al Qaeda-linked militants since violence started two and a half years ago.

Saudi map

Saudi-owned television network al-Arabiya described Mr Suwailmi as an internet specialist who had helped post militant statements on websites linked to the al-Qaeda network.

In September, Saudi officials claimed that Mr Suwailmi had been killed along with four other militants in a gunbattle in eastern Saudi Arabia.

However, he went on to broadcast an internet statement to show he was still alive.

Of the list of 36 names published in June, 15 suspects were thought to be on Saudi soil and eight of these have now been killed or captured, the authorities say.




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