Horror, anger and fresh vows to thwart the terror threat

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Indy Politics

The attacks in Riyadh were swiftly condemned yesterday, amid a warning that the bombing highlighted the need for Saudi Arabia to address terrorism in the kingdom.

While President George Bush said those responsible would be taught "the meaning of US justice", Jordan said the suicide bombings, which killed scores of people, increased the need to find peace in the Middle East. "This will only strengthen our resolve to find a solution to all the problems of the region," Marwan Muasher, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, said, accompanied by Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State.

General Powell said: "The United States will not be deterred from pursuing the interests of peace around the world." He later flew to Riyadh to see the results of the bombings for himself.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, described the bombings as outrages. Speaking in South Africa, Mr Straw pledged Britain's help in investigating the attacks. About 30,000 Britons live in Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Office warned against travel to the kingdom.

The French Foreign Ministry said it condemned the attacks "with the greatest firmness" while in Berlin, Otto Schily, the German Interior Minister, said the bombings showed the need to keep up the pressure on al-Qa'ida.

"Al-Qa'ida's structures have been weakened, but we must assume that they are still able to carry out operations," said Mr Schily. "If it turns out that the Riyadh attacks can be attributed to al-Qa'ida, this would bolster our assessment."

The European Union called for those responsible to be brought to justice. "The presidency strongly condemns the terrorist attack," it said in a statement issued in Athens. Greece holds the EU presidency. "Those responsible for this horrible and barbaric act of terrorism should be prosecuted and brought to justice. The EU presidency reiterates its strong and unequivocal condemnation of all forms and acts of terrorism, independently of origin, cause or motive and its unwavering commitment to the fight against terrorism."

Australia warned its citizens not to travel to Saudi Arabia. One Australian was killed in the attacks. Alexander Downer, the Foreign Minister, said the bombings were unlikely to have been motivated by the Iraq war. "It is likely if it was al- Qa'ida, or one of those al- Qa'ida-related organisations, then it was planned even before the war in Iraq began," he said. "I think we take the view now that Australians should leave Saudi Arabia if they possibly can, if they feel that the situation is dangerous."

In Manila, the Philippine government said at least two of its citizens were among the dead. "The Philippine government condemns in the strongest possible terms the dastardly bombing attacks," said Blas Ople, the Foreign Secretary.

Jamal Khashoggi, the editor of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, said it was time for Saudis to "look at the kind of thoughts that are behind what happened".

He added: "The danger al-Qa'ida poses is not in its organisation, but in its ideas. The organisation could be dissolved, but new groups could sprout that have never met [Osama bin Laden]. We can turn this disaster into a positive force ... It is now a must to turn to the problems we have, and solve them."