08/06/2004

US citizen killed in Riyadh

A US citizen has been shot dead in the Saudi Arabia, less than 48 hours after gunmen killed a BBC cameraman and seriously injured one of the corporation's correspondents.

According to the Associated Press, the US embassy has said that an American was killed in the capital Riyadh today. It is believed that the shooting took place in the city's Al-Kahlij eastern district.

Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, was killed and BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was injured after coming under fire from gunmen while filming in the Al-Suwaydi suburb of the capital on Sunday. Mr Gardner is in a critical but stable condition after several hours of surgery at a Riyadh hospital. He is understood to have suffered stomach wounds.

The Qatar-based news service, Al Jazeera, has published what it says is a statement published on the internet by Al Qaeda terrorists operating in the Kingdom. The statement warns that all Westerners, their compound and means of transport – such as airlines – will be priority targets "in the near future" for terror strikes.

Reuters has also reported today that the BBC has dropped its policy governing the use of armed guards, and will send bodyguards with reporters "as a last resort".

A spokesperson for the broadcaster told Reuters that the deteriorating situation in some areas, particularly in Iraq, meant that "you literally can't go without armed protection".

(gmcg)

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