They also seized weapons and ammunition early on Saturday in the raids on 12 homes in the capital and nearby districts of Kharj and Mujamma, television quoted an Interior Ministry source as saying.

 

Some of the arrested men had taken part in operations carried out by the "deviant group" - a label used by authorities to describe supporters of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network - or sympathised with them, the television report said.

 

It said all the arrested men were Saudi nationals, but gave no details of their identity. Security forces also seized electronic equipment and printed material in the raids.

 

Saudi Arabia has been battling a two-year wave of bombings and shootings by al-Qaida supporters.

 

The last significant attacks - against the US consulate in Jedda and the Interior Ministry in Riyadh - took place nearly a year ago and security forces have since killed several leading fighters in clashes.

 

Diplomats say they believe that fighters are still planning more operations in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.