Massive Hunt On For Militants Involved In Riyadh Shootout

RIYADH, 27 November 2003 — Security forces have launched a manhunt for militants who escaped the police dragnet following a shootout on Tuesday at a terrorist hideout in the capital during which two suspects died.

The authorities have intensified efforts to arrest the fugitives, who some say could have carried out terrorist attacks far greater in impact and intensity than the one on a compound in Riyadh on Nov. 8, which killed 18 people.

When officers stormed the militants’ hideout on Tuesday they also found a huge cache of explosives including a car that was ready to be detonated, suggesting that a much bigger attack has been foiled.

One of the militants was killed by security forces during the shootout while the other died when he detonated an explosive belt during the gunbattle.

The sources said the man was carrying a will, but said its contents were unknown. The explosives-packed car, which was found inside a villa rented by the militants, had been painted with the same markings used by military guards at most residential compounds in Riyadh, according to reports published in local newspapers.

The reports said that the suspects were being monitored, which led to the police swoop on their hideout.

Security forces are not saying whom or what the militants were targeting. Okaz Arabic daily quoted security sources as saying that the suspected militants planned to hit either a residential compound or other “vital sites” in the east of the city.

According to reports, several militants escaped in a stolen car and are still at large. Police found rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, electronic equipment and pamphlets for “incitement,” the reports added.

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