Secretary of State Colin Powell got a first hand look Tuesday at the devastation caused late Monday by suicide bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The blasts targeted Westerners living in the kingdom. Saudi officials say at least 29 people were killed in the bombings, including seven Americans and nine bombers. Almost 200 others were injured.
Secretary Powell toured one of the residential compounds in Riyahd bombed by suicide terrorists late Monday night.
After seeing the devastation, Mr. Powell told reporters combating terrorism has to be a worldwide effort. "This is why the president has said that this has to be the number one priority, not only for the United States but for the civilized world so that things like this cannot continue to happen. This is criminality, terrorism at its worst. There is no justification for it in any way, shape, fashion or form," Mr. Powell said.
Secretary Powell said the attacks were well planned and well executed by terrorists willing to kill innocent people in their sleep. He said the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to use a variety of law enforcement techniques to fight terrorism.
Mr. Powell arrived in Saudi Arabia less than 12 hours after terrorists shot their way past armed guards at residential complexes in eastern Riyadh, housing mostly Westerners. Moments later they detonated vehicles packed with explosives causing widespread damage to numerous buildings.
Mr. Powell said Tuesday the attacks had all the fingerprints of an al-Qaida operation. Al-Qaida is Osama bin Laden's terrorist group believed responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington that killed more than 3,000 people.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Monday night attack in Riyadh.
Mr. Powell is touring the region to discuss terrorism and the international road map to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The Secretary met with several Saudi officials Tuesday, including Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
Mr. Powell said U.S. experts would soon arrive in Saudi Arabia to assist in the investigation of Monday's suicide attacks.