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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Terror suspects 'flee Saudi jail'
Saudi security officer
The Interior Ministry said the fugitives were 'religious extremists'
Seven terror suspects have escaped from prison in Saudi Arabia, according to the country's Interior Ministry.

Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya said the fugitives - six Saudis and one Yemeni - were linked to al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia has been battling a campaign of violence by al-Qaeda aimed at toppling the pro-US monarchy.

The suspects fled Malaz prison in the capital Riyadh, where they had been held over "security related issues," an Interior Ministry statement said.

The term is used by Saudi authorities to describe terrorism charges.

Radical ideology

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the suspects were religious extremists and said they had been arrested in separate incidents over the past year.

"They are extremists, the believe in the takfiri thoughts," spokesman Mansour al-Turki told the Associated Press news agency.

The radical takfiri ideology is followed by radical Sunni Muslims.

Mr al-Turki declined to confirm media reports that the fugitives were linked to al-Qaeda.

The Interior Ministry statement urged the men to turn themselves in to avoid a postponement of their trial and to benefit from "the king's generosity".

The statement did not say when they had escaped.

King Abdullah recently renewed an amnesty he first offered two years ago to repentant Islamist militants.

Last month, Saudi officials said security forces had arrested 42 suspected Islamist militants in raids across the country over the past few months.

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