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Saturday 19 October 2019

US citizen shot dead in Riyadh

One US citizen has died and another was wounded in the attack in Riyadh
One US citizen has died and another was wounded in the attack in Riyadh

A gunman has opened fire on two American employees of a US defence contractor, killing one and wounding the other at a petrol station in Saudi Arabia's capital.

Saudi security forces in Riyadh tracked down the gunman and exchanged fire with him, before wounding and arresting him, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The wounded American had "moderate" injuries, according to the report.

The alleged shooter is believed to be an American-born Saudi who worked at the same company as the two Americans.

The suspect was recently sacked from his job for alleged drug use and it is believed that the victim he shot dead had turned him in.

The Americans were employees of Vinnell Arabia, a US defence contractor supporting Saudi National Guard military programs in Riyadh, and were shot about half a mile from its facility in the city, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The site, on the eastern side of the capital, is also near the Saudi National Guard headquarters.

Vinnell Arabia declined to comment on the issue.

A spokesman for parent company Northrop Grumman could not be immediately reached. Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Turki confirmed the Saudi news agency report, but declined to provide further details.

US officials were in close contact with the Saudi government to gather details about the shooting and a possible motive, Psaki said. She said US authorities are also evaluating their security posture, and will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all US Mission personnel.

The attack was likely to send chills through the Western expatriate workforce in the kingdom, which has been on alert for possible terrorism.

In September, Saudi police said they had arrested 88 people suspected of being part of an al-Qaida cell that was planning attacks inside and outside the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia and four other Arab countries are taking part in US-led air strikes against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida fighters in Iraq and Syria. Militants have vowed revenge.

Attacks by al-Qaida militants from 2003 to 2007 were aimed at destabilizing and toppling the Western-allied monarchy. Among the most stunning attacks were deadly bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh where foreigners lived in 2003.

Saudi officials responded at the time with a massive crackdown that saw many al-Qaida operatives killed or arrested.

Others fled to neighbouring Yemen, giving birth to one of the group's most active branches.

PA Media

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