British man killed in car bombing in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, June 20, 2002

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- A car bomb explosion killed a British bank employee in the Saudi capital on Thursday.

Quoting the chief of Riyadh police, the official Saudi Press Agency said the victim's four-wheel-drive vehicle exploded.

In London, the Foreign Office said the explosion happened in the street outside a residential compound. Most Westerners in Saudi Arabia live in heavily guarded high-walled compounds.

"A person died in the explosion. We can confirm he is British but at this stage can't confirm his identity," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

"The Saudi police are currently at the compound investigating the explosion," the spokesman said. "We are in close contact with the Saudi authorities and the family of the man who died in the explosion."

The police chief told SPA the explosion occurred at 8:54 a.m. and said there were no other casualties.

He said the victim was a bank employee, working for Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi.

The bombing follows a series of similar blasts in the country.

Two bombings in Riyadh in late 2000 killed a Briton and injured four others. A Scottish man was injured in an explosion in Khobar in December 2000. In March 2001, a Briton and an Egyptian were injured in a bombing outside a large downtown Riyadh bookstore. In May 2001, an American was seriously injured in Khobar when the package he was opening exploded in his face.

Saudi officials said those blasts arose from disputes between gangs smuggling alcohol, which is forbidden in the kingdom under Islamic laws but is not difficult to obtain.

Concerns about anti-Western sentiments have surfaced in the kingdom since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the ensuing war on terrorism that many Saudis see as an assault on Islam. But there have been no reports of violence linked to anti-Western extremists in the kingdom.

The explosion came two days after Saudi Arabia announced that it had arrested a group of 13 people suspected to have links to Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Bin Laden is an Islamic extremist who has denounced the presence of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites.

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