July 8, 2006

Seven security detainees escape Saudi jail

RIYADH (Reuters) - Six Saudis and a Yemeni held in Saudi
Arabia on security charges have escaped a detention center in
the capital Riyadh, state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

"Seven detainees at Malaz prison in Riyadh, held in
connection with security cases, were able to leave the
detention center," SPA quoted an Interior Ministry statement as

It did not say when or how they had escaped.

"They were in Malaz prison and under investigation. Somehow
they left the prison, they ran away," an Interior Ministry
spokesman told Reuters.

He said the men were not on any lists of suspected
militants wanted by authorities and had not taken part in
militant attacks or clashes with police.

A government security adviser said the men had no proven
links to al Qaeda militants, who are normally held at a high
security prison outside Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has been battling a campaign of violence by
militants linked to al Qaeda who want to topple the pro-U.S.
monarchy and expel foreigners from the birthplace of Islam.

"Since they violated regulations, their cases will be
withdrawn from the investigating committee and public
prosecution and their trial procedures will be halted," the
Interior Ministry statement said.

"If they do not return to the detention center, they will
not be eligible for the amnesty granted by the king and will
become wanted by security forces," it added.

Last month King Abdullah renewed an amnesty he first
offered two years ago to repentant Islamist militants.

The kingdom also said last month that security forces had
arrested 42 suspected Islamist militants in raids across the
country over the past few months.