US presence in Saudi targeted

Although the Saudi Arabian government put the figure at 29 dead and 194 injured, AFP reported US vice president Dick Cheney as saying the death toll is actually 91. 
  
The dead included seven Saudis, seven Americans, two Jordanian children, two Filipinos, a Lebanese and a Swiss national, in addition to the nine charred bodies believed to be those of the attackers themselves.

No United States diplomats or other government employees were killed in the attacks, but they are widely believed to have been the targets.

Nine men forced entry into three residential compounds and detonated their vehicles to terrible effect.

The blasts sent balls of fire into the night sky in the Granada, Ishbiliya and Cordova districts shortly before midnight.

Looking to blame

The Saudi government made public 19 names of men they claimed formed an Al-Qaeda cell. Osama bin Laden's group aims to fight the US military presence in his native country and may have been involved in the attacks, according to Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi envoy in London. 

The US has moved its centre of military operations to neighbouring Qatar, but there are still substantial numbers of US military in Saudi Arabia according to exiled opposition activist Saad al-Faqih, who predicts "the beginning of a major coampaign aimed at the Americans".

Powell: no justification
for attack

There are also well over 60,000 American and British expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, in a country that is facing increasing unemployment and a 'youth bulge' whereby over half the population are under the age of 21.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, now in Riyadh, visited one of the sites and emphasised that there could be “no justification for this in any way, shape or form”.
   
The blasts targeted the Al-Hamra and Al-Jadawel residential compounds and a third complex housing residences of families of personnel with the US firm Vinnell.

Vinnell trains the Saudi National Guard headed by Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, according to John Burgess, public affairs counsellor at the US Embassy in Riyadh.

The fourth explosion was at the US-Saudi owned business, the Saudi Maintenance Company.

Reaction

President George W. Bush vowed on Tuesday to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attacks.

Both Al-Qaeda and the US look set
to fight for some time to come

"These despicable acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate and the United States will find the killers and they will learn the meaning of American justice," Bush told an audience in Indianapolis.

"Today's attacks in Saudi Arabia, the ruthless murder of American citizens and other citizens, remind us that the war on terror continues," Bush added. 
 
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said he was "deeply affected by the explosions in Riyadh which created innocent victims".

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned that anti-Western attacks threatened "regional stability and prosperity", while Britain advised its nationals on Tuesday against all but essential travel to Saudi Arabia.