March 29, 2006

Saudi Arabia arrests 40 suspected militants

(Recasts, adds details, background

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had
arrested 40 suspected militants, including eight who were
linked to al Qaeda's attack on the world's largest oil
processing plant last month.

Security forces also seized a cache of explosives and
firearms in simultaneous raids in several parts of the kingdom,
an interior ministry spokesman said.

There has been a spate of attacks in Saudi Arabia and last
month the authorities foiled an al Qaeda attack on Abqaiq, the
world's biggest oil processing plant, in which two militants
were killed.

"The security forces have arrested eight who are directly
linked to that cell (Abqaiq)," a ministry statement said,
adding that it would not identify the suspects arrested.

The security services also seized more than 100 grenades
and dozens of assault rifles, the spokesman said. He was unable
to say if the suspects had been planning new attacks.

"The arrests were made over the last week or so," he said.

"Some of them were related to publishing the terrorists'
ideas on the Internet ... others were providing assistance,
hideouts and financing to terrorists," the spokesman told

Saudi television aired footage of the cache showing hand
grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, and various firearms.

The arrests were made in several areas of the country,
including Eastern province, the capital Riyadh and the holy
cities of Mecca and Medina, he added.

Officials say about 144 foreigners and Saudis, including
security forces, and 120 militants have died in attacks and
clashes with police since May 2003, when al Qaeda suicide
bombers hit three Western housing compounds in Riyadh.