The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Saudis vow to hit back with iron fist

Riyadh, Nov. 11 (Reuters): Saudi Arabia has detained suspects in the devastating suicide bomb attack on a housing complex in Riyadh after vowing to strike back with an “iron fist”.

“A group of suspects in the bombing was detained. The campaign to chase the culprits started immediately after the bombing. Some were also detained and released after interrogation,” a diplomat close to the investigation said today.

The diplomat said the arrests took place in Riyadh and the outskirts but did not disclose when they occurred. “The campaign to hunt down those responsible is continuing,” the source said.

Saudi-born Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network is suspected of staging Sunday’s suicide attack that killed at least 18, including five children, and wounded 120 in Riyadh. In May a triple suicide bombing on a housing complex in Riyadh killed 35 people.

Saudi officials and Washington blame al Qaida for the weekend attack in which bombers posing as police blew up an explosives-rigged car in the Muhaya compound. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan said the kingdom was “in a state of war against those terrorists”.

The attack had been “executed by a group of criminals and deviants whose aim is to spread fear, violence and hatred,” he said in a statement carried by the Saudi daily Okaz newspaper.

King Fahd said yesterday his country would strike with an “iron fist against militants trying to violate security and stability”.

The vow followed an earlier warning from US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage that al Qaida was trying to topple the Saudi royal family and the pro-Western government.

“(King Fahd) emphasised the will to confront terrorism and deal forcefully with such criminal and wicked acts and to get at criminals who commit such acts and whoever is behind them,” a Saudi cabinet statement said.

A US embassy spokesperson said in Riyadh yesterday that after a daily review of the threat level, staff and their families were told they could now travel outside the Saudi capital’s heavily guarded diplomatic quarter to which they had been ordered restricted on Saturday. But the spokesperson said the embassy would remain closed indefinitely. The embassy closed on Saturday before the bombing, citing warnings a terror attack was imminent.

The US joined countries around the world in expressing condolences and pledging to stand by Saudi Arabia. Washington has been pressing Saudi Arabia to combat al Qaida, which it holds responsible for the attacks on US cities on September 11, 2001.

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