Saudi Arabia says six al-Qaida-linked militants and one policeman have been killed in a shootout in a residential district of the capital, Riyadh.

An Interior Ministry statement says a seventh militant was wounded in the fighting and was later detained.

The statement said the fighting broke out early Friday, when security forces raided the militants' hideout in the Al-Nakhil district.

According to the statement, the militants were members of the "deviant group" - a term Saudi officials use to describe the local supporters of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

Saudi authorities have been battling Muslim militants since May 2003, when al-Qaida suicide bombers hit three residential compounds in Riyadh that housed mostly Westerners.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.