Beefed up Saudi security braces for last 10 days of Ramadan

Monday, November 17, 2003

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia unrolled an unprecedented security buildup meant to foil additional Al Qaida suicide strikes believed planned to coincide with the end of the Islamic fast month of Ramadan.

Saudi security sources said police and special troops have been deployed in several major Saudi cities as well as around Western compounds and pilgrimage sites.

The sources said authorities are concerned that Al Qaida plans to launch a spectacular suicide strike over the next 10 days.

Other troops have been sent to the Saudi border with Yemen. The 1,600-kilometer border has been regarded as a way-station for explosives and insurgents for Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Saudi Cabinet has approved a proposal to deploy another 545 security officers along the border. The sources did not say when this would take place.

In Riyad, the largest presence of security forces is at the Western and other foreign compounds in the Saudi capital. Many of the compounds have been surrounded with new guard outposts, machine gun nests, barriers and armored vehicles.

The sources said the compounds have been placed under the responsibility of the National Guard, headed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz.

. Many of the compounds are protected by video cameras as well as three checkpoints to prevent suspicious cars from approaching. Streets leading to major compounds have been closed.

"We were given orders from the top that security around compounds should be tightened and that the number of guards be doubled," a Saudi security source told the Jedda-based Arab News. There are more security checkpoints and surveillance points. All loopholes are plugged."

Saudi officials reported increased security along the Yemeni border. A statement by the Saudi Border Guards asserted that the unit captured 2,565 sticks of dynamites, 44 hand grenades and a large amount of explosives over the last six months. The statement also said equipment used by Al Qaida insurgents was also seized.

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