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Archive for Sunday, May 2, 2004

Two Americans killed in Saudi Arabia attack

Bloody rampage leads to shootout with police

May 2, 2004

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— Suspected militants sprayed gunfire inside an oil contractor's Saudi office Saturday, killing at least five Westerners -- including two Americans -- and wounding at least 25 others. Police killed four gunmen in a shootout after a car chase in which the attackers reportedly dragged the naked body of one victim behind their getaway car.

One of the attackers killed was reported to be on the Saudi kingdom's list of most-wanted terrorists, many of them suspects in last year's suicide attacks on foreign housing compounds in the capital, Riyadh. The two attacks were blamed on al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Three of the gunmen worked at the office of ABB-Lummus in the industrial city of Yanbu, 220 miles north of the Red Sea city of Jiddah; they used their key cards to enter the building and sneak another attacker through an emergency gate, according to an Interior Ministry source quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that police engaged in a shootout with the gunmen outside a Holiday Inn before overpowering them on a downtown street. A statement from the Interior Ministry said police killed three attackers and wounded and captured a fourth, who died later.

The Interior Ministry statement said the gunmen walked into the offices and "randomly shot at Saudi and foreign employees." The offices are across the street from a petrochemicals plant co-owned by Exxon Mobil and the Saudi company SABIC.

After the attacks, police moved in to secure Yanbu's streets with checkpoints throughout the city, one resident said.

The U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James C. Oberwetter, condemned the attacks and offered condolences to the families of the victims. "The United States appreciates everything the Saudi authorities are doing to fight terrorism, including here in the kingdom," he said in a statement.

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