UK embassy in Riyadh evacuated over terror threats

The UK embassy in Riyadh has been closed today over fears that more terror attacks are on the way.

In an interview with Radio Four today, the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir Derek Plumbly, said that the embassy would be closed to the public for a few days.

"We are not just protecting the embassy, we are sending a signal to others of the need for heightened vigilance and caution at this time," he said.

"Our absolute priority is the safety of British citizens. It is just not true that there is any other concern, any other interest, commercial or otherwise which is more important to us than that."

Sir Derek described the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia as "a challenge of a completely new order, a different scale of attack, what appears to be… a link out and back to Al Qa'ida".

The Saudi authorities, he added, "do see this as a direct challenge to them, a war on them and they are determined… to root it out".

Meanwhile there were fears that the US mainland would the target for further terror attacks after it was placed on its second highest defensive level.

Elsewhere, according to the US embassy in Riyadh, the US continues to receive "credible information that further terrorist attacks" are being planned against unspecified targets in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement the embassy said: "In response to information that some strikes may be imminent, the Embassy and Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran will be closed on May 21, 2003. Although no decision has yet been made as to when the Embassy and Consulates may reopen, it will not be prior to Sunday, May 25."

And it has been reported today that Saudi authorities have arrested three Moroccan men they say were preparing to carry out a September 11 type attack. The Saudis claim the trio were going to hijack a passenger aircraft and crash it into a target within the kingdom.


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