September 6, 2005

Saudi forces overpower besieged gunmen

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi security forces seized control of
a militant hideout in the eastern city of Dammam on Tuesday,
ending three days of fierce fighting in which at least six
suspects and three policemen were killed, a security source

Government officials could not immediately give details of
casualties or even confirm the operation in Dammam, close to
some of Saudi Arabia's largest oil fields, was over.

But the security source said the clashes had ended and the
death toll could be higher.

Saudi television had shown security forces firing guns and
rocket-propelled grenades at the besieged house in Dammam, on
the Gulf coast 400 km (250 miles) east of Riyadh.

The U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Dhahran closed on
Monday because of security concerns linked to the shootout, the
latest flare up in violence linked to supporters of al Qaeda
leader Osama bin Laden in the world's top oil exporter.

Security sources did not give details about the identity of
the slain gunmen, but Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said at
least one had been on a list of 36 most wanted fugitives in
Saudi Arabia, battling al Qaeda for more than two years.

More than 90 foreign and Saudi civilians have been killed
in the al Qaeda violence aimed at toppling the pro-Western
royal family and evicting non-Muslims from the birthplace of

Last month, Saudi security forces killed al Qaeda's top
leader in the country, Saleh al-Awfi -- one of a few prominent
fugitives still at large.

The clashes in Dammam were the bloodiest since April, when
security forces killed 15 militants in three days of fighting
in the town of Al-Ras north of Riyadh.