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Foreigners fleeing Saudi Arabia
YANBU, Saudi Arabia -- American and European families packed their bags Sunday after a deadly attack on foreigners, and traumatized Saudi schoolchildren recounted how the attackers proudly summoned them to watch a victim's body being dragged through the streets.
The streets of Yanbu were eerily quiet a day after four brothers went on a bloody rampage that killed five Westerners and a Saudi. But behind closed doors, foreigners scrambled to book flights and Saudis comforted children shocked by the violence.
"I couldn't eat and I couldn't sleep the whole night. I have been having nightmares," said an 18-year-old student who gave only his first name, Rayyan. "This thing has changed my life forever."
After spraying the office of Houston-based oil contractor ABB Lummus Global Inc. with gunfire, the four bearded men tied the body of one of their victims to the bumper of a car and headed for the Ibn Hayyan Secondary Boys School.
Students said Sunday that the attackers drove into their parking lot and fired into the air to attract attention to the bloodied corpse attached to their car by its right leg. "This is the president of America!" the men screamed.
'God is great!'
"God is great! God is great! Come join your brothers in Fallujah!" they shouted, referring to an Iraqi city where U.S. troops are battling insurgents.
Students and school officials said some of the boys ran crying from the scene.
"I was shocked and terrified when I saw them. I just froze. I didn't know what to do," Rayyan said. "This is not right. This is un-Islamic."
Saudi troops deployed heavy weaponry Sunday to guard foreigners' houses and offices. Troops patrolled the empty streets in armored vehicles as government officials vowed to hunt down the terrorists who have struck four foreign targets in the past year.
The more than 100 employees of ABB Lummus in Yanbu all decided to leave with their families within days, company spokesman Bjorn Edlund told The Associated Press. Most of the employees are Americans, but they also include Britons, Australians, Filipinos and Indians.
"Not surprisingly, everyone wanted to go home," Edlund said.
In a statement from Houston, the company said: "We are constantly monitoring security in Saudi Arabia. In light of recent events in Yanbu, ABB has decided to transfer all foreign employees involved in the attack from the Yanbu site in the coming days."
The U.S. Embassy issued a message Sunday night saying its staff would leave diplomatic compounds only for essential business "until further notice." It canceled all social events involving guests at the embassy or at the U.S. consulates in Jiddah and Dhahran.
Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sherard Cowper-Coles, visited Yanbu, 220 miles north of Jiddah, to insist that the attack would not cause "a mass exodus" of foreigners.
But behind closed doors, dozens of Westerners prepared to leave.
"It's not safe here anymore. I don't think I can stay any longer," said a Canadian engineer, walking inside a foreigners' compound with his young daughter. Like many Westerners, he refused to give his name out of concern for his safety.
Families of Americans walked quietly through the Radhwa housing compound, across the street from the Holiday Inn, but wouldn't speak to reporters. Many Westerners were visibly nervous.
"It's a little freaky out here," said Nick Dockett, a 36-year-old engineer from London. He quit his job with ABB in Yanbu two weeks ago and was preparing to move to Thailand when the attack occurred. "I guess I made the move at the right time," he said.
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general, advised Americans to leave the kingdom.
The wounded -- reports on the number ranged from 25 to 50 -- recovered Sunday at the Royal Commission Hospital. An American lay in the intensive care unit, apparently using a respirator. Doctors wouldn't let journalists approach and didn't give details of his identity or his wounds.
In another room lay Abdullah al-Taimani, 13, who took shrapnel to his back from a grenade. He groaned in pain as his father, Nasser, cursed the attackers.
"These people are not Muslims," Nasser al-Taimani said. "What they have done will only land them in hell."
The four attackers are brothers and are Saudis, a security official told the AP on condition of anonymity. He did not further identify them.
Three of the men worked for ABB Lummus, the energy arm of multinational engineering company ABB. They reportedly used their keys to enter the ABB building Saturday morning, then opened fire randomly.
They killed two Americans, two Britons, an Australian and a Saudi. The Americans, the Australian and one of the Britons were ABB Lummus engineers, Edlund said. The other Briton was a contractor.
Police killed the four gunmen in a shootout after a car chase. One of the attackers was reported to be on the Saudi kingdom's list of most-wanted terrorists, and an Interior Ministry official told AP that DNA tests were being conducted to confirm that.
Associated Press writer Tarek al-Issawi contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.