Saudi compound bombing kills at least 17

10 November 2003
Government officials believe that an attack on 8 November on the Muhayya compound, which housed foreign workers in Riyadh, killed at least 17 people - mostly Arabs - and injured another 122. Few details of the bombing have been released by the Saudi authorities, but witnesses said that the two attackers entered the compound in a stolen police car following a gun battle. The assault, on what has been called a particularly 'soft target', was described as an attempt by Al-Qaeda to destabilise the kingdom. 'The real intention of Osama bin Laden is here,' said a former Saudi official. 'The intention is to throw the government out of Saudi Arabia.' UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the attack showed 'contempt for Islam and for people of all nations'.

Despite the increased violence in the kingdom in recent weeks, Saudi officials remain defiant. 'There is no crime more heinous than this - Let everyone inside and outside Saudi Arabia know that this country will not be shaken,' Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said on 9 November. On 8 November, hours before the Muhayya compound attack, US officials in Riyadh said that they knew of a plot against foreign, probably Western, targets in the kingdom, which prompted the closure of the US embassy and its consulates in the kingdom. 'There was intelligence suggesting that operational activity was moving ahead,' said a US official. 'I don't think it was specific to one location, but that something was afoot in the area.' Riyadh has been fighting a high-profile war against domestic militants after co-ordinated bomb attacks against residential compounds in Riyadh on 12 May, which resulted in the death of more than 30 people (MEED 3:11:03).

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