MANAMA, Bahrain – A day after the first attack on Saudi Arabia’s vital oil infrastructure, the Saudi branch of al-Qaida warned in an Internet statement Saturday that suicide bombers would strike again.
“There are more like them who are racing toward martyrdom and eager to fight the enemies of God,” the posting said. “You will see things that will make you happy, God willing.”
A strike on the Abqaiq complex, near Saudi Arabia’s eastern Persian Gulf coast, could have been devastating. Nearly two-thirds of the country’s oil flows through the facility for processing before export.
The attack, which was claimed by al-Qaida and repelled by Saudi security services, demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s success in putting tough security around the oil industry, the source of the royal family’s wealth, oil analysts said.
Two suicide bombers in explosives-packed cars traded fire with police at a checkpoint before a gate in the first of three fences around the sprawling, heavily guarded complex. One bomber collided with the closed gate, exploding and blowing a hole in the fence, a senior Saudi security official said.
The second bomber drove through the hole before police opened fire, detonating his car, the official added on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Witnesses on Friday reported that security forces traded fire with gunmen outside the facility after the explosions and that a hunt for attackers continued for hours. Saudi officials have not reported the capture of any assailants.
At least two attackers and two security guards were killed, the state news agency reported.
In another Web statement, al-Qaida said it carried out the attack “based on the instructions of our leader, Osama bin Laden” and identified the two slain suicide bombers as Abdullah Abdul-Aziz al-Tweijri and Mohammed Saleh al-Gheith.
It denied that the bombing was foiled and gave its own account of the attack. It claimed that al-Qaida fighters overcame guards at the gate, killing three and forcing others to flee. The fighters then opened the gate for a car that entered and blew up, it said, without specifying what the blast targeted.
The authenticity of the statements could not be independently confirmed.
Crude oil prices jumped by more than $2 a barrel on world markets after the attack. But Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi swiftly issued assurances that the violence did not affect oil operations.
On Saturday he stressed to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez at a meeting in Riyadh that the kingdom would “ensure the flow of oil despite the terrorist threats.”