Briton killed by car bomb 'meant for Americans'

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The Independent Online

An explosion has killed a British man and injured his wife as they drove through the centre of the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

An explosion has killed a British man and injured his wife as they drove through the centre of the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

The Riyadh Police Chief, Abdullah al-Shahrani, said that he suspected that their car had been booby-trapped but did not know the reason for the bombing. Some reports suggest the Britons were mistaken by their attacker for Americans.

The Foreign Office identified the victims as Christopher Rodway, who worked in a hospital in Riyadh, and his wife, Jane. Witnesses said Mr Rodway was fatally injured in the explosion and appeared to have had a leg nearly severed.

The Foreign Office initially said the couple were in their forties and had been business people working in Saudi Arabia for the past seven or eight years. "Two Britons, a man and his wife who were resident in Saudi Arabia, were injured in an explosion in a car in the centre of Riyadh," a spokeswoman said. The man later died at the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh.

"The woman only had superficial injuries and has been discharged from hospital and she is staying with friends," said the spokeswoman. "We do not know whether it was a bomb or not but it is clear there was some kind of explosion."

The blast happened in front of a barbershop in the centre of the capital, where businesses were closed for the Muslim holy day. One witness said he saw a blond man, whose leg was nearly severed, removed from a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and a woman who did not appear severely injured.

The timing of the explosion coincides with a surge of anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East, rooted in America's support for Israel and its failure to condemn the mass killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops. The presence of US soldiers in the kingdom is also resented by many Saudis.

Opposition to the West was fuelled by the recent conviction by a military court in Jordan of a group of militants accused of plotting to kill US and Israeli tourists at the turn of the millennium.

The regions anger at the West has been expressed in a series of terrorist attacks in recent years. Suicide bombers blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole on 12 October, killing 17 American sailors, as it refuelled in Aden, Yemen. A truck bomb exploded outside a housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 25 June 1996, killing 19 US Air Force personnel. The previous year, on 13 November, a car bomb blew up at a US military headquarters in Riyadh, killing five Americans.