[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 8 November, 2003, 22:49 GMT
UK reviews Saudi security
The UK Foreign Office is reviewing security at diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia.

Hours after the review was announced, a blast hit Riyadh at about 2100 GMT on Saturday, with first reports saying a residential compound housing Saudi and foreign workers had been targeted.

This followed the closure by the United States of its embassy and consulates in the capital Riyadh on Saturday after receiving "a credible threat of a terrorist attack".

The UK Foreign Office, which is checking if British nationals were involved in Saturday's blast, said earlier it believed terrorists may be in the "final phases" of planning attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia.

It warned the 30,000 British citizens living in the country to maintain a high level of vigilance, "particularly in public places frequented by foreigners".

The Foreign Office also sought to clarify advice issued for neighbouring Bahrain where the risk from terrorism was said to be a "high threat" rather than a "high general threat."

Washington has also made a separate warning terrorists may be planning to hijack cargo planes overseas and crash them into targets in America.

Bahrain security concerns

A UK Foreign Office spokesman downplayed raised security concerns in Bahrain saying Saudi Arabia remained the highest threat in the region.

A spokesman said: "In order to make our advice clearer and to differentiate between the risk of terrorism in each country we have amended travel advice for Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

"Whereas we had previously advised that there was a 'high general threat' from terrorism, this has been amended to a 'high threat' for Bahrain and Qatar and a 'significant threat' for Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates."

He added that neither were as serious as the warning for Saudi Arabia, where the FCO believed terrorists may be in the "final phases" of planning attacks.

Hijack warning

Washington has also made a separate warning terrorists may be planning to hijack cargo planes overseas and crash them into targets in America.

In Washington an uncorroborated warning from a single source that terrorists may be planning to hijack cargo planes overseas and crash them into targets in America is being taken seriously by US officials.

Those responsible for safety at nuclear plants, bridges and dams in the US have been warned of the potential threat.

Some responses to the recent US warnings of potential terror attacks have been critical.

There is no doubt that if America is a target then Britain is also a target
Conservative homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer
Conservative homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer said: "Whilst the Americans haven't thought fit to raise their overall level of alert, they are continuing to pass intelligence and warnings to their people.

"There is no doubt that if America is a target then Britain is also a target," he said.

"When are the government going to stop treating the British people like children, stop sticking their heads in the sand and hoping for the best and warn us of potential dangers?" he asked.

The Saudi alert follows a previous warning to UK citizens not to travel there last month.

The Foreign Office has said it has no plans to close the British Embassy in Riyadh, in light of the American decision to close its embassy and consulate for an unspecified period.

Canada and Australia have also advised citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia, citing possibly imminent terror attacks.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Richard Lister
"Bahrain is home to 7,000 British nationals"



SEE ALSO:
Explosion hits Saudi capital
08 Nov 03  |  Middle East
US on alert for cargo plane attack
08 Nov 03  |  Middle East


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