Briton is shot dead in Saudi Arabia

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The Independent Online

A Briton was shot dead by suspected Muslim militants in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, yesterday in what appears to be the latest anti-Western killing by supporters of al-Qa'ida.

Security sources said the man, Edward Smith, a communications worker, was shot twice in the chest and twice in the head by three gunmen in a drive-by shooting in a shopping complex east of the city centre.

The sources confirmed the shooting was linked to a wave of anti-Western attacks in the world's largest oil exporter by supporters of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the Briton killed today in Riyadh," the British Ambassador, Sherard Cowper-Coles, said. "They should know - and the terrorists must know - that his murder will only make the British government more determined to stand with the Saudi government and people in their battle against senseless terror of this kind," he added.

Since 2003, al-Qa'ida, the terrorist organisation linked with Osama bin Laden, has waged a campaign of suicide bombings and shootings in the kingdom, aimed at driving Westerners out and hurting the economy and oil industry. About 90 policemen and civilians, many of them foreigners, have been killed.

In August, an Irish civil engineer was killed by at least one gunman who burst into his office in Riyadh. In June, Saudi gunmen shot dead an Irish cameraman working for the BBC and wounded his British colleague as they filmed in an Islamist militant area of the capital.

Saudi Arabian security analysts say terrorists are targeting individuals rather than large buildings or military or police targets because of a tough security clampdown. Only a handful of militants took up a government offer of a limited one-month amnesty that ended in July but the frequency of attacks has gone done in recent months.

Two blast damaged cars parked near Western-linked banks in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Saturday, injuring at least one, but it was not clear if they were politically motivated.


3 August: An Irish engineer is shot dead in his office in eastern Riyadh

18 June: Paul Johnson beheaded after kidnap

12 June: Kenneth Scroggs shot dead in Riyadh

8 June: An American is shot dead in Riyadh

6 June: Saudi gunmen kill Simon Cumbers, an Irish cameraman working for the BBC, and seriously wound his colleague Frank Gardner