Saudi Arabia was left reeling this week after Islamist
militants stormed a smart residential compound and an oil company
headquarters in Khobar, taking more than 50 people hostage. 22
people, including nine of the hostages, were killed before Saudi
troops stormed the compound where they were being held. This incident raises new concerns about the Saudi
government’s ability to combat Islamic terrorism, and the
security of foreign workers in the country. The militants, who
are thought to have Al-Qaeda links, were said to be specifically
targeting foreigners. They were reported to have asked people in
the compound, “Are you Muslim or Christian? We don’t
want to kill Muslims.” The Oasis residential compound, one
of the most luxurious in the city, is home to many oil company
executives. Fears over the safety of its citizens have led the US
to request that all its nationals leave the country immediately
and the UK to issue travel advisory warnings. The recent attacks have had an adverse effect on the price of
oil with investors fearing that it is part of a sustained attempt
to disrupt oil supplies from the world’s largest exporter.
The recent events in Khobar follow gun attacks at a petrochemical
plant in Yanbu which killed five foreigners, and a suicide bomb
attack on a residential compound in November last year in Riyadh
which left 17 dead.ARCHIVE: 5th week TT 2004