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Home > News > PTI

Indian believed to be among 5 killed in Saudi blasts

K S R Menon in Dubai | November 09, 2003 15:50 IST
Last Updated: November 09, 2003 16:44 IST

Suicide bombers struck for the first time during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh triggering a series of explosions around midnight in a housing complex that left at least five persons, including an Indian, dead and over 100 injured.

However, the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia on Sunday said there was no confirmation of any Indian casualty.

"We are in touch with the Saudi security authorities to ascertain reports circulated by some agencies that one Indian has been killed in the blast. But so far we do not have any confirmation. Our teams had gone to all the hospitals to check if there has been any Indian casualty. We are yet to get a full report but as of noon, we have not received any report of Indians either killed or injured," an embassy official told PTI.

Most of those injured are children as the elders were away shopping before the morning meal.

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An unspecified number of gunmen in an explosive-laden car fired at the guards and broke into the fortified compound close to the royal palace and the diplomatic quarters triggering at least three blasts in less than a minute around 0200 IST, hours after the US closed its diplomatic missions in the kingdom following 'credible' intelligence reports about terrorist strikes.

A senior official at the site said at least five people - three Lebanese, one Indian, one Sudanese – were killed as explosions rocked the al Mahaya compound housing about 200 villas, including some of foreigners.

Indian diplomats said the deceased Indian was on guard duty. His identity has not yet been ascertained.

There were conflicting reports about toll from a Riyadh hospital, which had earlier said dozens were killed but later backtracked to say, 'only a number' of people died without specifying the exact figure.

So far, there has not been any official statement about the toll in the blasts but a Saudi official said the attackers exchanged fire with guards and there were three explosions. It was unclear if three different bombs had detonated or whether it was a single bomb that set off multiple explosions.

Residents said they heard gunshots before and after the blasts. The blasts caused a two-metre deep crater, gutted at least 15 cars and destroyed six villas.

Witnesses said an area of about 50 square metres was reduced to rubble, and nearby buildings were heavily damaged with windows shattered and doors blown off. The injured were rushed to various hospitals in the capital, which were put on a state of alert.

The method in which the bombing was executed appeared similar to that used in the May 12 bombings of three residential compounds which killed 35 people, including the nine attackers.

The attack comes two days after two terrorists blew themselves up in Mecca while a militant was gunned down in Riyadh. Saudi authorities had stepped up crackdown on suspected extremists following the May bombings.

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