At least 10 people were killed and several taken hostage Saturday morning in Saudi Arabia in an attack on a compound housing the offices of foreign oil companies. Saudi security forces later stormed the compound.
Armed gunmen took hostages in a residential complex for foreigners in the Saudi city of Khobar, 400 kilometers northeast of the capital Riyadh. Five Lebanese hostages were released to Saudi forces. But it remained unclear how many others were still being held.
The gunmen launched the attack by opening fire in the offices of the Al-Khobar Petroleum Center, killing several foreigners.
The former head of the Egyptian Strategic Center of Armed Forces, General Hossam Sowaillam, says he thinks the attack aims to destabilize Saudi Arabia's oil industry.
?It is part of a terrorist plan put by Bin Laden and this al-Qaida, in order to spread their action in all fields, to inflict damages on the Saudi economy and enforce those foreigners working in these fields to withdraw, and go back to their countries,? he said.
Security officials say at least four gunmen went on to storm three residential compounds, which house employees of Shell, Honeywell and General Electric, among others, and took refuge there from the Saudi police force.
Former Egyptian diplomat Abdullah Al Ashaal says terrorists in Saudi Arabia are using dramatic strategies to draw the world's attention.
?They are imitating some other militant groups like what happened in Iraq and what happened before in Lebanon in the 80s, and perhaps, they may internationalize their cause, Mr. Al Ashaal said. ?Targeting the foreigners and taking some of them hostages, I think, this is to show the whole world that they have a cause, they have a logic and they have to be listened to.?
News agencies report al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to an Islamist Web site.
This is the third attack against foreigners in Saudi Arabia in less than a month.