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Saudi arrests 700 over ‘oil attack’ plots

AFP

Saudi arrests 700 over ‘oil attack’ plots

Jun 25 09:40 AM US/Eastern

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has arrested 701 Islamists in the past six months on suspicion of plotting attacks on oil industry installations, the interior ministry announced on Wednesday.

Security forces “carried out several operations against followers of the deviant ideology and arrested a total of 701 people of various nationalities,” said a ministry spokesman, quoted by the official SPA news agency.

Of those arrested since the start of the year, “520 are still being held for their implication in the organisational and ideological plans of the deviant ideology”.

‘Deviant ideology’ is the term used by Saudi officials to describe Al-Qaeda.

The kingdom has been battling suspected Al-Qaeda militants since they launched a wave of shootings and bombings, many targeting Westerners, in May 2003.

Last July, the interior ministry announced that it had started forming special security units to protect the country’s oil infrastructure from terrorist attacks.

In April 2007, the ministry said 172 terror suspects had been rounded up along with weapons and cash. Some of the militants were allegedly plotting airborne attacks on oil facilities and army bases.

Security forces thwarted an alleged Al-Qaeda attack against Saudi Arabia’s massive Abqaiq oil processing facility in February 2006. Two members of the security forces and two assailants were killed.

Copyright AFP 2008

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