ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia has placed its military and security forces
on high alert.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said the security
forces were placed on the highest state of alert over the last 24 hours. The
minister said the alert was issued in Riyad and all major Saudi cities in
wake of a string of Al Qaida suicide attacks against U.S. defense compounds
In the oil-rich region of the Eastern Province, Saudi reinforcements
arrived to patrol Dhahran and man roadblocks in the area, Saudi media
reports said on Wednesday. Thousands of U.S. nationals work for Saudi Aramco
and the U.S. consulate in the city was closed, Middle East Newsline reported.
On Wednesday, the casualty count that stemmed from the Al Qaida attacks
remained in dispute. Saudi Arabia reported 30 people were killed in the Al
Qaida attacks. U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney said 91 people were
killed. Later, a State Department official said up to 50 people were killed.
"Twenty-one people were killed in the car bombs in Riyad last night,"
the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement on late Tuesday. "Nine
charred bodies were also found at the sites, and they are believed to be
those of the terrorists."
Saudi officials said the suicide attacks were staged by an Al Qaida cell
composed of at least 19 Islamic fugitives, 17 of them Saudi nationals. Last
said, authorities raided a safe house used by cell and which contained more
than 350 kilograms of weapons and explosives and well as tens of thousands
of dollars. The weapons were believed to have been smuggled from Yemen.
The Al Qaida cell, the officials said, was trained in Afghanistan and
fought against the United States in 2001. They said the insurgents also
participated in the war against Russia in the breakaway republic of
Officials said Al Qaida had targeted U.S. nationals and interests in the
series of suicide bombings. But they said that the huge majority of the
casualties were Arab and other Western nationals.
"I pledge to my fellow citizens and to the friends who live among us
that the state will be vigilant about their security and well-being," Saudi
Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz said in a televised address. "Our
nation is capable, by the grace of God and the unity of its citizens, to
confront and destroy the threat posed by a deviant few and those who support