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4 Die in Saudi Shootout - 2003-09-23

Three gunmen and a Saudi police officer were killed south of the capital Riyadh Tuesday following a shootout on the grounds of a hospital.

The shooting started after Saudi security forces surrounded a housing complex on the grounds of a hospital located about 960 kilometers south of the capital, near the border with Yemen.

According to a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency, shots were fired by the gunmen, holed up in the complex, after security forces had demanded they give themselves up. Police returned fire. When the shootout ended, three of the suspects and one Saudi police officer had been killed.

The statement said the suspects had machine guns and hand grenades and were planning to carry out terrorist acts, although it was not disclosed where or when those attacks were to have taken place.

Prior to the gun battle, Saudi news agencies had reported the suspects had taken hostages at the hospital but there was no mention of hostages in the official government statement.

The Reuters news agency said a Saudi official indicated one of the gunmen was on a list of 19 suspected members of the terrorist group al-Qaida and was being sought by Saudi authorities.