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Saudi Forces Say 2 Leaders Of Al Qaeda Killed in Fight

Associated Press
Wednesday, April 6, 2005; Page A15

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 5 -- Security forces seized a walled compound Tuesday where gunmen had been holed up for days, ending the kingdom's largest firefight with armed Islamic guerrillas. At least 14 of the guerrillas were killed, including top leaders of the Saudi branch of al Qaeda, state television reported.

Six others were captured in the desert town of Ar Rass, state TV said, citing security officials. Officials said 35 police officers were wounded.

For nearly 48 hours, the gunmen had been barricaded inside a villa about 220 miles northwest of Riyadh and near Buraydah, an Islamic militant stronghold. The gunmen, who were surrounded by hundreds of Saudi special forces, had a large arsenal of weapons and discharged heavy volleys of automatic-weapons fire and grenades.

Among the dead were two militants on Saudi Arabia's list of most-wanted terrorists, a senior military official in Ar Rass said on condition of anonymity.

The official said the dead included Kareem Altohami Mojati, a Moroccan, and Saud Homood Obaid Otaibi, a Saudi, who were ranked as No. 4 and No. 7, respectively, on Saudi Arabia's list of 26 most-wanted terrorism suspects linked to al Qaeda.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said he could not confirm that the two had been killed.

Mojati has been described as a supporter of Osama bin Laden who fought in Afghanistan. Saudi news media alleged that he helped plan the May 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca that killed 33 bystanders.

Otaibi is said to be one of two Saudi militants running al Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia.


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