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17 Dead in Saudi Suicide Car Bomb Attack

Reports from Saudi Arabia say at least 17 people were killed when a suicide car bomb exploded and tore through a residential compound west of the capital, Riyadh. Saudi authorities are blaming the al-Qaida terror network for the attack. The attack followed renewed terror alerts from western nations, including the United States.

Reports out of Riyadh say the dead and wounded include children, some of whom were in their homes alone when the blasts hit. Their parents were out late-night shopping during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Saudi state television continued to show scenes of devastation at what was the upscale al-Muhaya complex where many of Saudi Arabia's foreign workers lived.

The TV showed twisted cars and metal, and a five-meter wide crater at the complex. Saudi authorities announced that this was the work of al-Qaida suicide bombers. Rescuers were shown sifting through the rubble, searching for survivors.

The television news programs also showed survivors of the blast in a Riyadh hospital.

One of those interviewed was a middle-aged woman with black, disheveled hair. Her face was bloodied, a patch covered her left eye, and there was a bandage on the right side of her head. She said most of the residents of the targeted complex were not westerners.

A heavy-set man was crying in the hospital. He said his son had been injured by window glass shattered by the blasts. "It cannot be Muslims who would do something like this," he said. "We were sitting at home relaxed, and heard the explosion and then gunshots. We tried to move to a higher floor to take shelter."

Dr. Badr Al Aneefy, speaking from the hospital, said some of the wounded were children. He said such acts had build a kind of solidarity in Saudi Arabia, and that some people were coming to donate blood to the injured.

The huge blast came a day after western nations issued renewed terror alerts, and the United States closed its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia.

Reports from Saudi Arabia said the suicide bombers had shot their way into the compound and detonated at least one car loaded with explosives.

Saudi authorities said the bombings resembled suicide attacks in the capital last May that targeted western residential complexes, killing 35 people.

Hundreds of suspected Muslim militants have been arrested in Saudi Arabia in an intensified campaign to crack down on suspected extremists the government says are linked to the al-Qaida terror network.

Authorities had warned of possible terror attacks during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Last week, Saudi authorities foiled what they said was a planned terrorist attack in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

The militants involved, they said, were part of al-Qaida, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, is Saudi-born.

Arab and other Muslim nations sent their condolences to the kingdom. The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council called the attack a cowardly operation, aimed at innocent lives, and said it would continue efforts to eradicate what it called the phenomenon of terrorism.

At the same time, the 22-nation Arab League issued a condemnation of what it called these kinds of criminal, terrorist acts the Saudi kingdom is being subjected to.