Wave of killings puts Saudis on alert

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has placed its military and security forces on higher alert after a series of killings in the kingdom. The officials said Al Qaida and related groups are believed linked to the attacks.

The alert has affected the border regions of the kingdom, officials said. They said Saudi military and security units have been placed on high alert in the northern and eastern provinces. They said the alert includes the bolstering of forces at bases in the region.

Saudi Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Saleh Bin Ali Al Muhaya confirmed the higher alert. Al Muhaya said the military has been preparing for a range of contingencies, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Saudi military, officials said, has responded to the prospect of a U.S.-led war against Iraq. They said the military is prepared to repel any attack on the kingdom or the entry of suspected insurgents from the northern Saudi border with Iraq and Jordan.

In a statement to the Riyad-based Okaz daily over the weekend, Al Muhaya said Saudi military bases have also been trained to deal with emergencies.

He said the Saudi military has absorbed new systems that bolster the kingdom's capability to survey its borders and isolated regions.

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