Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 June 2019

Saudi forces arrest armed 'extremist' after gunfight: ministry

The man was in possession on a machine gun

Saudi forces have arrested a heavily armed "extremist" after wounding him in an exchange of gunfire in the kingdom's conservative central heartland, the interior ministry said early on Thursday.

The man had embraced an ISIS "ideology" and was found to be in possession of a machine gun, a pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition, the ministry said in a statement.

The man in Al Bukhariya city was also wearing what appeared to be an explosives-laden belt, state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

The incident comes as the kingdom prepares to host the annual hajj pilgrimage from August 19 to the 24.

The kingdom has seen numerous attacks in recent years by extremist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, against security forces.

It has also seen clashes between Shiite militants and security forces in the eastern provinces.

In July, a drive-by shooting against a checkpoint in central Saudi Arabia and an ensuing gunfight left a security officer, a Bangladeshi civilian and two attackers dead, according to the interior ministry.

And in April, four Saudi policemen were killed and four others wounded in an attack targeting a checkpoint in the southwestern province of Asir.

Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which gathered defence ministers and leading security officials from 41 countries to focus on counter-terrorism co-operation.

The Pan-Islamic coalition is tasked with co-ordinating individual efforts to fight terrorism. A Counter Terrorism Centre in Riyadh has been established as its operational arm.

In a visit to the UK in March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted the similarities between religious extremists and terrorists in an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph.

“The extremists and the terrorists are linked through spreading their agenda,” the prince said in the interview in Riyadh. “We need to work together to promote moderate Islam”.

“We want to fight terrorism and we want to fight extremism because we need to build stability in the Middle East,” he told the newspaper. “The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if [Britain has] a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia”.


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Updated: August 16, 2018 04:27 PM