Saudi commandos freed about 50 hostages early Sunday, and captured
suspected Islamic militants, who stormed a housing compound Saturday
in the Saudi city of Khobar, killing at least 10 people and taking
the hostages. When the commandos landed on the roof of the building
Sunday morning, their immediate goal was to free the hostages.
But leading Arab columnist and expert on Islamic affairs Fahmy
Howeidi says the Saudi government was also sending a message
to terrorist cells
operating in the kingdom.
dropping soldiers on roof
"As far as I know, the Saudi authorities do not agree with
any negotiations with those groups, because the people who
are using violence, and using weapons, [there is] no point
in talking with them," he said.
Mr. Howeidi says the raid was particularly successful, because
it resulted in the capture of some of the attackers, including
their leader. He says that is very unusual, and indicates that
they were caught off guard.
" They were surprised, and they did not consider the Saudi
authorities would act like this," said Mr. Howeidi. "Usually,
they do not allow Saudis to arrest anyone. They do prefer to
commit suicide, rather than being arrested by the Saudis."
Saturday's shooting and hostage-taking was the third attack
against foreigners in Saudi Arabia in the last month. New agencies
report that the al-Qaida terrorist network has claimed responsibility
for the attack, in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site.
The gunmen launched their attack Saturday morning by opening
fire in the offices of the Al-Khobar Petroleum Center, killing
several foreigners. They then went on to storm three surrounding
residential compounds, killing more people, including a 10-year-old
Egyptian boy. The attackers then took refuge in an apartment
building, holding the residents hostage.