Five Americans die in Saudi blast

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The Independent Online

Diplomatic Editor

British companies and military personnel in Saudi Arabia were last night warned to increase their vigilance after a car-bomb attack on an American security installation in Riyadh killed six people and injured more than 60.

President Bill Clinton pledged to mount "an enormous effort" to find the perpetrators and an FBI team was sent to the kingdom to assist Saudi intelligence in the hunt. It was the first terrorist attack since 1991 in Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil exporter and a key ally of the West.

Five Americans, two of them military trainers, were among those killed when a van packed with explosives blew up yesterday morning outside a US-operated training facility for the Saudi National Guard.

Western embassies tightened security and high-profile British companies were told to "upgrade their vigilance". Some 30,000 Britons live in the country; British Aerospace is a lead contractor in the pounds 20bn oil-for-arms Al-Yamamah deal with the Saudi government.

Several opposition groups have threatened Western interests in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year the Islamic Change Movement demanded that Western forces should leave the region or face attack.

But there has been no trouble since 1991, when a minibus carrying American military personnel was raked by gunfire.

The Saudi ambassador to London, Dr Ghazi Algosaibi, said yesterday that the bombing was "an isolated incident" which did not reflect on the country's stability. "All speculation about the perpetrators remains just that, speculation," Dr Algosaibi said.

Bomb's two targets, page 12