More than 130 persons were killed and at least 200 wounded in several days of fighting that ended today as Saudi troops routed the last holdout radicals from the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi officials said tonight.
The dead during the two-week siege included nearly 60 Saudi troops and 75 members of the radical Moslem sect that seized the mosque, Islam's holiest site, on Nov. 20, Saudi Arabia's interior minister, Prince Naif ibn Abdul Aziz, announced in a televised statement.
There were also eyewitness reports of heavy casualties among the hundreds of civilians who had been held hostage in the mosque but Naif did not mention their fate. Many are known to have escaped in the early days of the mosque's occupation but a Moslem religious leader told a Saudi newspaper of soldiers finding piles of bodies of civilians in the holy shrine.
Naif gave no details about the military operation that ended the seizure of the mosque, an event that had rocked the Islamic world. Erroneous reports that the United States was involved in the seizure touched off riots in Pakistan that led to the sacking of the American embassy there Nov. 21.
While there have been persistent reports that the trouble ingnited by the occupation of the mosque had spread to other parts of Saudi Arabia, authorities here have vehemently denied any such problems.
Naif said that 170 of the radicals who seized the mosque were captured. Most of those, including the group's leader, were Saudis, he said, but Yemenis, Egyptians, Moroccans, Pakistanis and Kuwaitis were also among those captured. He mentioned no Iranians. Early foreign reports of the seizure had suggested Iraian involvement, but Iranian authorities denied any direct connection.
Naif today emphasized, as have spokesmen here since the siege began, that there was no known connection between the takeover of the mosque and any foreign government.
Members of the heavily armed fundamentalist sect that invaded the mosque to proclaim their leader the final Moslem prophet were forced into basement passageways nine days ago when Saudi troops stormed and secured the upper floors of the building.
Reports in newspapers here during the past week have said that casualties among civilian hostages were heavy in that fighting, but no official figures have been announced.
Naif repeated the government's earlier statement that aurthorities could have ended the siege long ago except that they wished to spare the lives of "innocent worshippers" -- a reference to the hostages -- and protect the mosque from damage.
Following Naif's statement, Saudi television broadcast 15 minutes of pictures of a disheveled group of prisners, captured in the fighting.
The group shown, numbering about 100, were seated on the floor in a Mecca prison, many with dazed looks and others appearing quite frightened.
Television also showed pictures of the man described as the military leader of the uprising, Juhaiman Oteiba, sitting on a hospital bed, clad only in a filthy gown.
As the pictures were shown, Saudi comentators praised God for ending the seige and condemmed the prisoners for their "sacriledge."
In an interview published Tuesday in the Riyadh newspaper Al-Riyadh, a senior Saudi religious leader said civilian casualties were very high.
Sheikh Hammound Al-Oqayl, the iman of a major mosque in Riyadh, told the usually well informed newspaper that the gunmen shot a large number of people, including women and children, during their initial assault.
"Bodies were piled on each other in all parts of the mosque, and soldiers who tried to get to them to remove them were also cut down," he told the newspaper.
He said Saudi troops used tanks and heavy artillery in their assults on the mosque during the first week of the siege.
The tribesmen who stormed the mosque reportedly were armed with weapons ranging from knives to heavy machine guns, and quickly set up sniper's positions in the high minarets overlooking Mecca from which they were able to hold off the attacking forces for almost five days.
Once the attackers were forced into the basement on Nov. 25, Saudia troops began to use their own snipers along with tear gas and asphyxiating gas in an effort to recapture remaining areas of the mosque.
Late last night, officials here said they hoped to starve the remaining gunmen out of the maze of tunnels and more than 270 rooms which run under the mosque, but they abandoned that tactic in favor of a last assualt Tuesday morning.
The London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, quoting top Saudi officials, reported it its Wednesday edition that both the military leader and the self-proclaimed holy man in whose name the mosque was seized were captured.
It said that large quantities of arms described as "readily available in the Arab world" were also captured.
The newspaper also reported that it had been told that public prayers will probably resume at the mosque later this week and that Saudi Arabia's King Khalid and Crown Prince Fahd will go to Mecca soon to participate in thanksgiving prayers for the recapture of the mosque.
Information Minister Muhammad Abdo Yamani yesterday denied reports of anti-American demonstrations among the Saudia Arabian Shiite Moslem minority in the oil-producing Eastern Province around Dhahran and said the mosque takeover was the only unusual incident in the country.
During the first two weeks of the mosque siege, Saudi authorities had provided little information on what was going on in Mecca, the holy city 50 miles east of here, which is barred to all non-Moslems.