Saudi officials have blamed the Al-Qaeda network for the attack, which followed a sustained crackdown on militants in the kingdom in recent weeks. Security at expatriate housing complexes has also been improved after suicide bombers blew themselves up and killed 35 people at three housing compounds in the capital in May. There has been no official confirmation whether the latest attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

‘We will uproot terrorism and put an end to it and all who stand behind it,’ Crown Prince Abdullah said soon after the attack. During a visit to the site of the attack, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said ‘the people who were behind this must stop these heinous acts or give themselves up. We will intensify our campaign to clamp down on terrorists’.

The bombing came within days of a warning issued by the US embassy in Riyadh that terrorist groups had moved to the operational stage of carrying out new attacks. Since the beginning of Ramadan in early November, the kingdom has seen a steady rise in violence. On 3 November, police killed two and arrested six suspected militants in the holy city of Mecca. On 6 November, two Al-Qaeda suspects blew themselves up near Mecca while being pursued by police. On the same day, eight policemen were injured and one alleged terrorist was killed in a shootout in the south of Riyadh.