Saudis, Al Qaida in major shootout

Friday, May 22, 2004

ABU DHABI ° Saudi security forces have engaged in a daylight shootout with Al Qaida insurgents near the kingdom's capital.

Saudi security sources said the shootout took place on Thursday in a village north of Riyad regarded as sympathetic to Al Qaida. They said four Al Qaida insurgents and a Saudi officer were killed.

An Interior Ministry statement said a security officer was shot dead and two others were wounded in the gun battle. The ministry said ammunition and weapons ╣were found in the possesion of the gunmen, Middle East Newsline reported.

Security officers said a Saudi security force targeted a suspected Al Qaida stronghold in a rest house in Buraida. The insurgents opened automatic and rocket-propelled grenade fire toward the Saudi force.

"As soon as the security forces began their task at the location, they came under heavy machine-gun fire," a security officer quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency said. "Four of the wanted men were killed and another was wounded. A security man was martyred and two of his comrades were injured. Weapons and ammunition were found."

The sources said the RPG used by Al Qaida in the Buraida battle was similar to that fired against Saudi security officers in Riyad on April 18.

They did not elaborate.

Several of the Al Qaida insurgents escaped Buraida, the sources said. The sources said Saudi security officers used reconnaissance aircraft in the search for the insurgents.

Saudi sources identified one of the Al Qaida casualties as Bandar Al Dakheel. Al Dakheel has been number 18 on the Saudi list of the top 26 Al Qaida fugitives published by the kingdom in 2003.

Another clash was reported in Al Qassim about 320 kilometers from Riyad. The ministry said two security officers and an insurgency suspect were injured.

Copyright ę 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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