Saudi Arabia says security forces have killed the kingdom's al-Qaida leader in a shootout in the holy city of Medina.

Interior Ministry sources say terrorist ringleader Saleh al-Awfi was killed Thursday in surprise government attacks on suspected al-Qaida hideouts at several locations in the kingdom.

The official Saudi press agency says government security forces launched an undisclosed number of surprise attacks on suspected hideouts in Riyadh and Medina early Thursday.

The agency said some suspects were arrested in the raids, while others battled government forces. A government statement with details was expected later Thursday.

The Medina raid took place hours before Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz was to visit the city.

Saleh al-Awfi is believed to have replaced the kingdom's former al-Qaida ringleader, Abdul Aziz al-Moqurin, who was gunned down by Saudi forces in June of 2004.