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Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 16:54 GMT
Blast heightens ex-pats' fears

Saudi police block road after fatal 17 November bomb
Ex-pat communities are on alert after the second explosion in a week in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh.

There are an estimated 30,000 Britons living in the city where two car blasts have killed one British national and injured four.

In Riyadh, most Europeans and Americans live in "compounds" of several hundred houses where women are free to drive and go jogging, though alcohol, pornography and drugs remain strictly prohibited.

Though these compounds are guarded, rising tensions in the Middle East and the two recent car blasts in Riyadh, have led to greater caution.

Recital cancelled

One informal music recital, expected to attract 500 people, has been cancelled and a second social event remains in doubt.

A British woman, who has lived in such a compound for more than 10 years told BBC News Online: "There is a certain amount of fear.

"We talk about it in our coffee mornings and people are nervous. It is quite alarming to have two incidents inside a week."

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she would continue to shop at a nearby, well-guarded mall, but would insist her husband checked the car before using it.

It is quite alarming to have two incidents inside a week.

British woman living in Riyadh
She added mothers of young children would now be more likely to go with them to school rather than send them alone with drivers.

The woman said she was not alone in thinking Americans were at greater risk than other nationalities. "But this makes you wonder. We all look the same, don't we."

She added: "I have my family coming out for Christmas and they will want to see the city. But this makes you think twice."

Her husband, a doctor, remained defiant: "We were talking about it when we were playing golf and only one person, an American, said he would be wary of going into the centre of the city.

"If I had business downtown I would go."

He said Wednesday night's explosion, which injured three, only made a few paragraphs in Thursday's edition of the English-language newspaper Arab News.

Security review

Meanwhile BAE Systems, which employs 3,000 people in Saudi Arabia working in defence, construction, and engineering, confirmed it was reviewing security following the Wednesday night blast.

BAE spokesman Charlie Miller said: "Our security arrangements are under constant review and clearly will be reviewed again in the light of this incident. Security is taken very seriously."

He said he could not discuss details but added: "Security is adequate."

The British Consulate in Riyadh, which sends out warnings to ex-pats via a network of wardens, said the explosions had not led to a flurry of calls from concerned citizens.

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