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Fire Kills Several Dozen Prisoners in Saudi Arabia - 2003-09-15

Fire has killed as many as 67 inmates at a prison in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

The fire reportedly broke out around mid-day at the al-Hair prison in the Saudi capital, killing several dozen prisoners. At least 20 inmates and three security guards were reported injured in the blaze that apparently started in the prison's detention center.

Interior Ministry officials are not saying whether the fire was caused by accident or if it had been intentionally set. News reports quoted security officials as saying the fire may have been started by an electrical short circuit.

It was not immediately clear whether the prison housed any of the more than 200 Islamic militants arrested during the past few months in a Saudi search for followers of al-Qaida terror network leader Osama bin Laden. Saudi authorities launched a massive manhunt for suspected terrorists following the May 12 triple suicide attacks against residential compounds in Riyadh. The attacks killed a total of 35 people.