Gunmen in attack on journalist still at large

RIYADH: Three Saudi men who allegedly opened fire on a senior Riyadh-based journalist and his friend are still at large.

Riyadh police have detained several suspects for identification since the attack on Wednesday night on Subhi Rakha, a correspondent for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai. “Many suspects were released after the two police lineups in which we were called to identify the culprits,” Rakha said on Saturday.

He said three men “fired indiscriminately from their pistols after my friend and I intervened to settle a scuffle between the Saudi men and an Egyptian national.”

Rakha, 46, and his friend Walid El-Safati, 40, who hail from the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, have received scores of sympathy calls from senior Saudi and Egyptian officials since Thursday. Several news reports in Egypt erroneously said Rakha was killed in the attack.

Nabed Baker, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy, said senior officials from the Saudi and Egyptian sides were closely monitoring the ongoing investigation.

Rakha and El-Safati were shot after they intervened in the dispute between another Egyptian and the Saudi men. When the Saudis drove off, the Egyptians, including Rakha, began to walk away from the scene assuming that the matter was settled.

At this point, however, one of the men opened fire from the back seat of their vehicle, hitting Rakha and El-Safati in their left legs. Rakha said he did not manage to note the vehicle’s licence-plate number. He said four rounds were fired at them.

El-Safati, who works for the local branch of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, said he was confident that Saudi authorities would arrest the perpetrators and put them on trial. A case has been registered with Al-Deira police station.

Rakha and El-Safati have been released from hospital but are still recuperating from their injuries.

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