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Militants planned series of suicide attacks- Saudi

Written by: Staff
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RIYADH, Dec 4 (Reuters) Militant cells recently broken up in Saudi Arabia were planning a series of suicide bomb attacks and assassinations, the Saudi interior minister said today.

Saudi Arabia, fighting a violent campaign by al Qaeda supporters, said on Saturday it had detained 136 suspected Islamic militants including a would-be suicide bomber.

''These seven cells were planning to carry out acts and were on the point of carrying them out,'' Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz said in comments carried in state media.

Asked about planned suicide attacks, he said: ''in numerous places, and assassinations.'' The government said on Saturday the militants including Saudis and foreigners had been arrested over a period of more than two months, and were planning to pose as pilgrims.

The haj pilgrimage season reaches its climax in late December and early January. It was not clear if they were planning attacks during that time, when some 1.5 million Muslims visit Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer.

''It is not difficult to get into the country, the kingdom is open, especially to pilgrims,'' Prince Nayef said, confirming that the government is preparing a new list of wanted militants.

''Yes there is one (a list). The concerned authorities are following this and with God's help we will be able to prevent any criminal act against this country,'' he said.

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

The Interior Ministry has released two previous wanted lists. All wanted militants named in the lists who were inside Saudi Arabia are thought to have been killed or captured, while some could be in Iraq or elsewhere.

REUTERS SSC PM1614

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