Saudi explosions kills 10
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Islamic extremists set off bombs and battled with police in the Saudi capital Wednesday night, leaving nine militants and one bystander dead and causing oil prices to jump as the insurgents signaled they will keep up attacks despite the kingdom’s crackdown on al-Qaida.
A car bomb was detonated by remote control near the Interior Ministry in central Riyadh – killing a bystander, according to Saudi TV – followed soon after by an explosion when two suicide attackers tried to bomb a troop recruitment center.
The gunmen who set off the ministry blast fled, but then engaged in a gunbattle with police in northern Riyadh that killed seven militants and wounded an undetermined number of officers, police said.
The attacks came two weeks after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called on his followers to focus attacks on his homeland. While damage to the Interior Ministry was minor, it was a bold assault on the government body at the center of Saudi Arabia’s war on other Islamic extremists.
Prince Ahmed bin Abdel Aziz, the deputy interior minister, told Saudi TV the attackers were all Saudis. He said they were “terrorists (who) took a great risk, because they know that their end is imminent.”
The violence sparked a jump in oil prices in afternoon trading in New York, helping push the price of a barrel of light crude up nearly $2 a barrel to $43.64.
The first explosion went off around 8:30 p.m. near the Interior Ministry, a huge modern high-rise in a complex that includes a luxury hotel. Two militants set off a car bomb by remote control in a traffic tunnel near the ministry, police said. A limousine driver was killed, Saudi TV said.
Shattered glass littered the ground near the ministry, and several damaged cars – including a blood-splattered taxi – sat outside.
A half hour later, a second explosion shook the city. Two suicide bombers tried to drive into a troop recruitment center about five miles away, but they came under fire from police and set off their explosives prematurely. The two bombers died, but there were no other reports of casualties.