Westerners killed in Saudi attack

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    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/05/01/saudi.attack/index.html

    Westerners killed in Saudi attack
    Saturday, May 1, 2004 Posted: 1:04 PM EDT (1704 GMT)

    (CNN) -- Four attackers entered a Saudi compound and opened fire on workers Saturday, killing several Westerners, Saudi officials said.

    The U.S. Embassy confirmed that two Americans were killed in the attack and a third was wounded and rushed to the hospital.

    Consular officials were traveling to the area to investigate the incident, a State Department spokeswoman said.

    The Australian Foreign Office said one Australian, a 57-year-old man, was killed.

    Saudi police said two British citizens were killed, but the British Embassy had no immediate confirmation.

    Four British diplomats were on their way from Jeddah to Yanbu, the embassy said.

    The Canadian Foreign Ministry said it had reports of two Canadians wounded but no immediate confirmation. Canadian Embassy officials were heading to the scene as well, the ministry said.

    The international victims were employees of petrochemical company ABB Lummus Global, a part of Switzerland-based ABB.

    One Saudi policeman was killed and another was wounded, Saudi police said.

    Saudi authorities believe the attack, in the Red Sea industrial town of Yanbu, was carried out by four people on a list of 26 wanted militants released in December.

    Many of the people on that list are linked to al Qaeda, Saudi authorities said.

    Two of the attackers blew themselves up in a car after the incident, a third was killed by security forces, and the fourth was shot and wounded by authorities and arrested, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

    The ministry did not know the total number of casualties at the compound, where Saudis and people from other countries work.

    The attack occurred at an oil refinery co-owned by Exxon Mobil and the Saudi company SABIC, The Associated Press quoted company officials and diplomats as saying.

    U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James C. Oberwetter issued a statement saying, "The kind of horrific attacks that happened today in Yanbu must be condemned by all those who want to see peace and prosperity in the Middle East.

    "The United States appreciates everything the Saudi authorities are doing to fight terrorism, including here in the kingdom," he added.

    A senior U.S. State Department official said the United States has been saying for the past year that economic facilities and infrastructure are likely targets of terrorists.

    The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, mourned the loss of lives in the attack.


    "Our hearts go out to the families of the innocent victims of the horrific attack in Yanbu early this morning," al-Faisal said.

    "We will not be discouraged by this brutal incident in which innocent lives were lost ... and many people injured in an indiscriminate evil rampage."

    This is the first known attack on international workers in Yanbu, about 150 kilometers (100 miles) north of Jeddah.

    A Yanbu resident said by telephone that police had set up checkpoints throughout the city, and that some of the Westerners involved in the oil industry in Yanbu were unable to reach their workplaces because of the heavy police presence, AP reported.

    This week Abdul Aziz al-Mukrin, the man believed to be the top al Qaeda operative in Saudi Arabia, threatened to hit Saudi security forces hard -- to "shake the ground underneath their feet" -- if they try to stop the jihad launched by the terrorist network.

    He warned Muslims to stay away from Americans or risk being hurt in attacks.

    Al-Mukrin denied al Qaeda was responsible for the suicide bombing last week of an old Saudi security headquarters building that killed five people and wounded 147.
     

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