Six Muslim militants killed in Saudi firefight
Six Muslim militants and two policemen were killed yesterday in the latest Saudi security sweep, which Riyadh says shows it is serious about waging war on terror.
It was the biggest militant death toll in a series of shoot-outs since suicide bombs in Riyadh killed 35 people on May 12, including nine Americans. Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed the attacks on Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group.
Yesterday's casualties came in a firefight at a farm in Qassim province, an Islamist heartland in the northeast, during a crackdown on wanted Islamists, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Eight policemen were wounded in the clash.
"Security forces besieged a farm in Qassim after information that a number of wanted men were hiding there. The suspects were asked to surrender, but they responded by firing at the security forces and threw hand grenades," said the statement, read out on Saudi television.
"The operation led to the killing of six suspects and the wounding of one of them. Two security men were martyred and eight others were slightly wounded," it said, adding four people who gave the suspects refuge were arrested.
King Fahd, addressing a cabinet meeting, praised police, intelligence agencies and ordinary citizens for thwarting terror attacks, saying it showed "the determination of all to deter those who want to infringe on the security of the state and citizens", the official Saudi News Agency SPA reported.