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Police Investigate Saudi Arabia Blast - 2001-10-06

At least two people are dead and as many as four injured following a bomb blast in eastern Saudi Arabia where U.S. troops are stationed.

The explosion occurred along a popular shopping street in an electronics shop in the eastern Saudi town of Khobar, where U.S. troops are stationed.

The busy shopping area is in the center of town, which has since been cordoned off by police while an investigation gets underway.

In June 1996, 19 members of the U.S. Air Force were killed when a bomb exploded near a residential neighborhood inhabited by U.S. troops from the Daharan base, near Khobar.

Tensions have been running high in the region following the September 11 attacks in the United States. Washington accused Saudi born suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in those attacks.

Saleh Khairy is the head of the highly respected Egyptian Al Ahram Newspaper bureau in Riyadh. He says, at this time, it's impossible to know who's responsible for the latest blast.

"Nobody can guess, especially with the new situation in the world," he says. "There was an explosion, once before, in Khobar. The targets were British. A Canadian and a Belgium were later convicted. We cannot guess who caused this attack or why."

Since 1996 there have been a number of explosions in Saudi Arabia that Saudi officials said were not linked to terrorism, instead, linking them to alcohol trafficking. Selling and drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia recently announced the United States would not be allowed to use its airbases for attacks in Afghanistan despite the fact U.S. Airforce F-15's and F-16's have been using the Sultan Air Base in the Saudi desert for patrols over southern Iraq.