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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saudi detains 139 suspected militants - Arabiya

RIYADH, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, fighting a violent campaign by al Qaeda supporters, has detained 139 suspected Islamist militants including a would-be suicide bomber, Al Arabiya television said on Saturday.

The militants were not Saudi nationals and included leaders of several cells, it said, citing a Saudi Interior Ministry statement. It gave no names but said the arrests had been made over the past two months.

Al Qaeda supporters began a campaign to bring down the U.S.-allied Saudi royal family in May 2003 with suicide bombings against Western housing compounds in Riyadh.

Officials say more than 136 militants and 150 foreigners and Saudis, including security forces, have since died though the violence has ebbed in the face of tougher security measures.

The authorities in the world's biggest oil exporter have been seizing dozens of al Qaeda members or sympathisers around the country for months, but the latest round up was large.

Arabiya said the suspected suicide bomber was captured with the equipment to carry out such an attack but gave no more details about the plot. The militants were also in possession of religious decrees allowing attacks on businesses and banks.
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