Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Five suspected militants killed in Kuwaiti gunfight

AGENCIES , KUWAIT

Five suspected Islamist militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces south of Kuwait City yesterday that also left five policemen injured, state television said.

Four other suspects were arrested during the gunbattle in Al-Qurain region about 25km south of the capital a day after a gunbattle involving suspected Islamist extremists that left three people dead and five injured near Kuwait City.

It quoted interior ministry spokesman Adel al-Hashash as saying five policemen were injured, one seriously.

Police had laid siege to a house suspected of sheltering armed men but the suspects refused to give themselves up and an exchange of automatic gunfire erupted.

Security forces had been chasing "10 terrorists," Hashash said.

It was the fourth deadly gunbattle between security forces and suspected militants in the oil-rich emirate this month, and the government has vowed to crush "terrorists."

"The government reaffirms its determination to crush this deviant group and deter all those who attempt to disrupt the security and stability of our beloved homeland," a Cabinet statement said after Sunday's unrest.

Kuwait is a transit route for foreign troops into Iraq. The Kuwaiti government has cracked down on Islamists opposed to the presence of some 30,000 US troops.

Diplomats say sympathy for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who has called for holy war against Western targets, is on the rise in traditionally moderate Kuwait.

The government has stepped up security around oil and other vital installations after an attempt by militants to launch a major attack near the country's largest oil refinery and a US military camp in the southern area of Umm al-Haiman.

The US, British and French embassies have advised their nationals to avoid certain areas in the country and warned of the danger of more unrest.

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