Islamists shot dead in Saudi firefight

At least two Islamists have been killed in armed clashes with Saudi security forces in the south-west of the capital, Riyadh.

    Military jeep patrols in area where the shootout occurred

    Another person was arrested, AFP reports, in the raid on Monday morning on a house in the residential quarter of Al-Suwaidi.

    One resident is quoted as saying “security forces entered a house this morning, where they searched for armed suspects they believed were hiding there”.

    The house was raided “followed by an intense exchange of fire”, the resident said.

    However, according to London-based Saudi dissident, Dr Saad al-Faqih, the head of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform, only one person, “believed to be Saudi”, was killed in the shootout.

    Speaking to Aljazeera.net, Al-Faqih said the latest incidents and others in the past few months, were an indication that the struggle for reform in the kingdom was not letting up.

    The latest incident was not new, he told Aljazeera.net, because “insurgents have decided not to hand themselves over”. Security forces therefore “are constantly met with confrontation”.

    Attacks on intelligence

    Al-Faqih also revealed that two other incidents in the kingdom in recent days had gone unreported.

    Attacks on Western targets have
    escalated in the kingdom

    On Sunday, a car bomb was detonated outside the offices of the Saudi national intelligence, in Riyadh, al-Faqih said.

    That, according to the Saudi dissident, followed an attempted assassination on the life of a senior Saudi intelligence official, whom he named as Abd al-Aziz Al-Huwairini.

    He said the official was either leaving or arriving at his office on Thursday evening when his car came under fire. The official, “survived, but with injuries”.

    Al-Faqih also said there had been signs that “the jihadis might stop attacking Western targets, and instead concentrate on important figures within the regime”.

    US embassy alert

    Meanwhile, US diplomats and their families in Saudi Arabia have reportedly been confined to the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh because of continued security concerns in the kingdom, according to The Saudi Gazette.

    “The jihadis might stop attacking western targets, and instead concentrate on important figures within the regime”

    Saad al-Faqih
    Director, Movement for Islamic Reform

    The paper reports that the US embassy placed this restriction on its 35,000 US nationals in the kingdom, one month after a bombing at a Riyadh residential compound which killed 18 people.

    Effective immediately, travel of embassy personnel and dependents of the Riyadh diplomatic quarter is restricted to essential business only, it said.

    The diplomatic quarter on the western edge of Riyadh houses most foreign embassies and diplomatic residences.

    Saudi soldiers guard the main entrance to the district and armoured vehicles protect the US and British embassies.

    Similar restrictions were being placed on US personnel at consulates in Dhahran and Jeddah, the embassy notice said.

    Saudis penalised

    On Monday, a Saudi court sentenced 36 citizens to 55 days in prison for seeking to protest in response to calls by an exiled dissident group demanding reform in the absolute monarchy, the al-Watan newspaper reported.

    "The judge ordered the group to be released for time already served and after it was confirmed that they had fallen prey to a dubious party calling itself the Movement for Islamic Reform," said the paper, adding that three women were among the group.
     
    London-based Saad al-Faqih and his Movement for Islamic Reform had called for the rare protests in October to press the Saudi royal family to release political prisoners and allow for greater political participation.

    Saudi officials said at the time that more than 200 people were arrested at the protests.

    The protests were seen as a new challenge to the Saudi royal family.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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