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Militants Attack US Consulate in Jeddah, 9 Dead

Saudi and U.S. officials say nine people, including four gunmen, have been killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in the port city of Jeddah.

A Consulate spokeswoman said five of its non-American employees died when militants stormed the U.S. compound Monday.

[Saudi officials say they include a Yemeni, a Sudanese, a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan, but the nationality of the fifth victim is still unclear.

Saudi police also shot and killed three gunmen and arrested two others. Later, officials said one of the gunmen in custody had died.]

According to a senior Saudi official in the capital Riyadh, no Americans were taken hostage in the attack against the U.S. consulate in Jeddah. But the official said third-country nationals were briefly taken hostage before the consulate was secured.

The attackers struck the consulate with explosive devices at two compound gates. Shortly afterward, the attackers opened fire with automatic weapons.

A senior Saudi government official said it appeared the attackers used hand grenades in, what he called, a diversionary tactic, while others entered the compound firing their weapons.

Several American personnel and Saudi civilians were injured or wounded during the attack.

There was no speculation on the motive of the attackers or their exact identities.

Saudi officials declined to say publicly whether the attackers were from the al-Qaida terrorist organization. But one senior Saudi official said the style of the attack did not seem to resemble past attacks for which al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

Interior Ministry officials said some of gunmen were wanted by Saudi security forces. Senior officials described the attackers as Islamic militants.

The siege at the consulate lasted about three hours before security forces brought the situation under control.

A senior Saudi official confirmed reports that some negotiations with the gunmen had begun, but that security forces decided to storm the attackers after threats were made.