February 27, 2006 in Nation/World

Saudis kill suspects in oil plot

Maamoun Youssef Associated Press
 

CAIRO, Egypt – Saudi security forces early today shot and killed at least five suspected terrorists believed to be involved in a foiled attack on the world’s biggest oil processing complex in Saudi Arabia, a news report said.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television quoted Saudi security sources as saying the forces exchanged fire with the suspected terrorists for about two hours in a suburb of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, killing five people suspected of being part of the cell that attacked the Abqaiq complex.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia said that two suicide bombers killed in the foiled assault were on its list of most-wanted extremists.

The Saudi Interior Ministry in a statement reported by the official Saudi Press Agency identified the two as Abdullah Abdul-Aziz al-Tweijri and Mohammed Saleh al-Gheith and said both were on a list of the 15 most-wanted terrorists the kingdom issued in June.

The deaths of the two meant that only four remain at large of the list of 15. Ten have now died or been killed, and one was previously arrested.

Friday’s attack, the first ever on Saudi Arabia’s vital oil infrastructure, could have been devastating. Nearly two-thirds of the country’s oil flows through the Abqaiq complex for processing before export.

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 said 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.

The Saudi branch of al-Qaida, which claimed the attack, warned in an Internet statement Saturday that suicide bombers would again strike.

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