Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Three al-Qaeda suspects arrested for bombings

REUTERS , RIYADH

Saudi Arabia has arrested at least three suspected al-Qaeda members in connection with the deadly triple suicide bombings in the kingdom earlier this month, newspapers reported yesterday.

Al-Watan said at least three people, including the alleged mastermind of the May 12 blasts on housing compounds in the capital Riyadh that killed 34 people, had been arrested on Tuesday in the Muslim holy city of Medina.

Another newspaper, al-Riyadh, quoted Interior Minister Prince Nayef as saying an arrest had been made on Tuesday in Medina, in western Saudi Arabia, but he gave no further details.

Okaz daily said that five people had been arrested at an Internet cafe in the city for suspected links to the attacks.

The paper reported the alleged mastermind was a Saudi national who was among 19 men who were wanted by local authorities on terrorism charges following a shoot-out with security forces in Riyadh early this month.

Saudi officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports.

US and Saudi officials have blamed the Riyadh attacks on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, which is held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on US cities.

Stung by US accusations of no doing enough to prevent the suicide bombings, Saudi Arabia has stepped up security in the country to hunt down those responsible for the bombings and to crack down on militancy to prevent further attacks.

A Western diplomat said last Thursday that Saudi authorities had arrested four men on suspicion of belonging to al-Qaeda.

US intelligence agents are in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the world's biggest oil exporter, to assist Saudi authorities in the investigation into the bombings.

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