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Suicide Bombing Hits Riyadh - 2003-11-08


Saudi Arabia says terrorists are responsible for explosions at a residential compound in western Riyadh, which killed at least two people and wounded dozens of others, many of them children. The bombing came a day after the United States closed its diplomatic missions in the kingdom, amid concerns about terrorist attacks.

Saudi officials say suicide bombers carried out the attack. Arabic television stations, reporting from the Saudi capital, showed flames shooting into the sky above the compound, hours after the blasts occurred.

Muhaya compound director Hadani El Ghandaqli was in the compound when the blasts occurred. She told the Arabic TV station, al-Arabiya, that mostly Arab families lived there, but there were also some Italians, Germans, British and French.

"I was in my office," she said, "it was a huge explosion." She said there appeared to be dozens of injured, many of them children.

Al-Arabiya TV also showed the inside of Riyadh's Faisal Hospital, where doctors and veiled nurses were attending to women, the station said were wounded in the explosions. One woman had eye patches and blood on her face. Another was sitting in a wheelchair, with blood dripping down her forehead. A small child with a leg brace sitting in a wheelchair was crying.

Saudi Health Minister Hamad bin Abdullah al-Manei told Saudi State TV that at least 50 people who had been wounded in the blasts were being treated in hospitals all over the capital.

Security forces packed the area, and helicopters were seen flying overhead.

There were reports of gunfire at the compound immediately before the blasts. The explosions, one larger than the other two, hit the residential compound around midnight Saudi time.

On Friday, the United States ordered its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia closed, citing credible information that terror attacks were about to occur. The more than 35,000 Americans in the kingdom had been warned to be especially vigilant.

In May, suicide bombers targeted Western residential compounds in Riyadh, killing 35 people. Saudi Authorities blamed those attacks on the al-Qaida terror network, and intensified their campaign against suspected Muslim militants. Hundreds of suspected militants have been arrested throughout the kingdom since then.

Five militants have died in clashes with police since Monday, when Saudi authorities announced they had foiled a planned attack on the holy Muslim city of Mecca.

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