An Islamic cleric who allegedly issued religious decrees for an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group was killed Wednesday during a car chase and shootout with police. A policeman was also killed, according to an Interior Ministry statement.
Abdullah Mohammed Rashid Roshoud, believed to be the top spiritual guide for al Qaeda in the region, died in the clash in the al-Quds neighborhood of eastern Riyadh, a Saudi security official said on condition of anonymity.
The clash followed an offer by King Fahd last week to not execute fugitive suspected militants who surrender to police within one month. Under the limited amnesty offer, they would still face trial.
Roshoud had called for a holy war against the Saudi royal family and Western interests in the Persian Gulf region. He is the latest suspect accused of links to an al-Qaeda-linked group to be killed in Saudi Arabia's crackdown on militants following a spate of attacks on Saudi soil.
A former high school teacher of Islamic studies, Roshoud was known for writing statements on Islamic Internet sites and issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, justifying terrorist attacks against the Saudi government and foreign influences in the kingdom.
With his death, at least 10 of the 26 suspected militants on a state-issued most wanted list have been killed, including Abdulaziz Muqrin, alleged to be al-Qaeda's leader in Saudi Arabia, who was killed on June 18.
An Interior Ministry statement said one militant -- apparently Roshoud -- and one policeman were killed in Wednesday's clash and six other security personnel were injured. Three bystanders, including one Saudi citizen, were also wounded in the afternoon attack. Earlier, an official said two militants were killed. The difference could not be immediately reconciled.
The Interior Ministry statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said police first noticed several suspicious people carrying weapons as they left a suspected safe house purportedly used for making explosives and got into a car in the northern Riyadh suburb of King Fahd.
Security forces called on the men to stop, the statement said, but they refused and shot at the police, who returned fire. An official said that a car chase ensued, followed by a gun battle. Another suspected militant fled the scene in a stolen car.