United States President George W Bush Sunday phoned Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to express condolences and pledge support in fighting terrorism.


Saudi authorities believe the attack in an affluent area of the capital Riyadh has the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation.

The attackers exchanged gunfire with security guards before driving into the compound in a police car and detonating a device. The bombers died in the explosion.

The country’s Interior Minister Prince Nayef who has visited the scene of the blast, vowed to “get the perpetrators no matter how long it takes.”

“No mercy or pity should be felt for anyone thinking of carrying out such acts,” he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has sent a message of sympathy to Saudi King Fahd Ibn Abdul-Aziz.

He also pledged China’s support in the war on terrorism.

Canada, Pakistan and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan joined others in condemning the attack in the strongest terms.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Richard Armitage has flown in from Iraq to discuss the war on terrorism with Saudi officials. He said al-Qaeda’s objective was to bring down the Saudi government and “to create fear and spread terror.”

Most of the casualties were Arabs, prompting the Arab League, which has 22 member states, to denounce the bombing as a “terrorist and criminal” act.

Scores of Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians and other Arabs were wounded. Americans and Canadians, most of them of Arab descent, were also listed among the wounded.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said such acts as the bombing “only aim to destabilise, terrify and kill” innocent people.

He added the attack had not taken into account the sacred nature of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The explosion came a day after the United States shut its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia after “credible evidence” of a threat and the UK embassy in Bahrain issued a similar warning.

The US warned its embassy staff in the Saudi capital to stay at home on Sunday pending “further assessment of the security situation”.

Residents of the compound are returning in trickles to salvage mementos, clothes, passports and other personal items.

It’s reported that an Interior Ministry official said the attack was similar in style to a series of car bombings on May 12th on three Riyadh compounds housing foreigners.

Those attacks, which were blamed on al-Qaeda, killed 35 people, including nine suicide bombers.

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