Saudi arrests seven 'Islamists'

Saudi Arabia has said it has arrested seven suspected members of a group which was "planning a terror attack".

    Six security men were killed in a shootout in Riyadh

    The authorities said they also 

    seized large amounts of arms and explosives during raids in Riyadh on Friday.

    Raids on two hideouts of presumed Islamists

    netted a booby-trapped car, 21 explosives belts and large

    amounts of arms and explosives, the interior ministry said.

    The raids followed the

    fatal shooting of six security men and the father of a detained

    suspect during a search of his home.

    The finds were the largest since the interior

    ministry said on 12 January that it had seized about 300 explosives

    belts and nearly 24 tons of explosive materials in its hunt for armed opposition activists

    .

    'Confessions'

    That statement, which coincided with the airing on television of

    confessions by "members of terror cells", said seizures over the

    past six months also included more than 300 RPGs and launchers and

    more than 430 hand grenades.

    Saudi authorities say they are
    fighting 'terrorism'

    The latest arrests and weapons seizures come as the kingdom,

    home to Islam's holiest sites, hosts 1.4 million Muslims who have

    come from across the world to take part in the annual hajj

    pilgrimage to Makka.

    The interior ministry statement said the raids were launched

    after security men came under a hail of fire from unknown gunmen as

    they searched the house of Khaled al-Farraj.

    The ministry said al-Farraj was "proven" to be

    linked with the group planning the "terror attack".

    Farraj's father was killed along with the six security men during the raid.

    Funeral

    The men were 

    buried with with full honors on Friday, with Riyadh Governor

    Prince Salman bin Abd al-Aziz leading the prayers for the seven

    dead.

    Salman, a brother of King Fahd, told reporters

    that the six security personnel had not fired a single shot when

    they unexpectedly came under attack during the house search

    .

    Security forces have repeatedly clashed with suspected Islamist opposition activists

     in recent months. Several security personnel have been

    killed in the shootouts.

    Hundreds of activists have been rounded up since last

    May's triple bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh that killed

    35 people, including eight Americans.

    "Violations were perpetuated by the strictly secretive criminal justice system and the prohibition of political parties, trade unions and independent human rights

    organisations.

    Hundreds of suspected religious activists and critics of the state were arrested (in 2003), and the legal status of most of those held from previous years remained shrouded in secrecy"

    Amnesty International report on Saudi Arabia

    A car bomb went off at another expatriate housing complex in the

    Saudi capital in November, killing 17 people, mostly Arabs.

    Rights violations

    Although Saudi Arabia says it is waging a struggle against "terrorism", opposition activists say it is brutally cracking

     down on justified dissent.

    In a recent report on the kingdom, rights group Amnesty International said the Saudi regime had committed "g

    ross human rights violations... exacerbated by the government policy of "combating terrorism". 

    The report said: "The violations were perpetuated by the strictly secretive criminal justice system and the prohibition of political parties, trade unions and independent human rights organisations.

    "Hundreds of suspected religious activists and critics of the state were arrested (in 2003), and the legal status of most of those held from previous years remained shrouded in secrecy."

    SOURCE: AFP


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