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Saudi Police, Militants Clash in Riyadh - 2004-07-21


Saudi police clashed with militants in Riyadh and have detained the family of a the suspected leader of al-Qaida in the kingdom. The Saudi defense minister is calling on all suspected militants to give themselves up in the few days ahead of the end of an official amnesty.

Saudi officials say at least two militants were killed in the Tuesday-night clashes. Arabic television reports say one of the dead may be Saleh al-Awfi, who is believed to head al-Qaida operations in the Kingdom.

Authorities say police at the scene also recovered the head of U.S. hostage Paul Johnson, who was decapitated last month by al-Qaida. Saudi authorities have been searching for Paul Johnson's remains since al-Qaida posted pictures of his body on an Islamist website June 18th. The most-recent fighting comes as Saudi leaders call on militants to take advantage of the almost-ended amnesty.

Officials say Tuesday nights clashes erupted after security forces came under intense fire from men armed with rocket-propelled grenades and bombs, while investigating a suspected al-Qaida site the capital.

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