Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Irishman killed in Saudi Arabia during machine gun attack


An Irishman was shot and killed on Tuesday when armed men stormed into his office and began firing machine guns, Irish and Saudi officials said.

A spokeswoman for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said the man was killed at about 5pm.

"Obviously our consular section [in Dublin] ... and our embassy in Riyadh are involved in the case and are liasing with the Saudi authorities," she said on condition of anonymity.

She would not give further details, including the man's name.

It was the second killing of an Irishman in the Saudi capital in two months.

A Saudi official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man was killed when at least two armed men stormed the office of the Saudi-owned Rocky for Trade and Construction and began shooting machine guns.

Al-Arabiya satellite TV said the victim was a 63-year-old engineer.

The Riyadh police chief told the official Saudi Press Agency that police were investigating the slaying. He said police received a call at about 5pm saying the man was dead inside his office.

The Saudi Press Agency carried no further details.

On June 6, Irishman Simon Cumbers, 36, a cameraman with the BBC, was shot and killed while filming a militant's family home in Riyadh. Security corres-pondent Frank Gardner, 42, a Briton, was critically wounded in that attack.

Westerners have been the targets of shootings, suicide bombings and kidnappings in the kingdom in recent months in attacks that are seen as an attempt to undermine the economy, which depends heavily on expatriate labor.

The last terror attack against a Westerner was the kidnapping of American engineer Paul Johnson on June 12 and his beheading six days later.

Two other Americans were killed in the kingdom in the week before Johnson's kidnapping.

The wave of violence in Saudi Arabia began May 12, 2003, when car bombs targeted three compounds housing foreign workers, killing 35 people, including nine suicide bombers. Since then, the kingdom has suffered a series of suicide bombings, gunbattles and kidnappings.

The attacks have been blamed on groups allied to al-Qaeda, the terror group led by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.

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