Al Qaeda's leader in Saudi Arabia was killed Thursday during clashes with police in the western city of Medina, the Interior Ministry said.
Saleh Aoofi, a Saudi in his late thirties, was among six al Qaeda guerrillas killed during police raids on numerous locations, security officials said. Aoofi and another guerrilla were killed during one of seven raids in Medina, the Interior Ministry said. A police officer was also killed.
Officials also said that at least one guerrilla was arrested in Riyadh, the capital, and that 10 were detained in Medina, 450 miles to the west, where the country's new monarch, King Abdullah, was meeting with Islamic clerics and tribal leaders.
Aoofi was considered the leader of Osama bin Laden's network in this Persian Gulf country, which has been rocked by guerrilla attacks since 2003. Aoofi, a former prison guard, reportedly fought in Chechnya and traveled to Afghanistan to join al Qaeda shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Aoofi was believed to have been involved in the June 2004 kidnapping and beheading of Paul M. Johnson Jr., an American engineer who worked for Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. Several weeks after the slaying, Saudi police found Johnson's head in a freezer in an apartment where Aoofi had been hiding.
Heavily armed police raided six al Qaeda hideouts in Medina near the mosque where the prophet Muhammad was buried. They then came across a seventh, where Aoofi and two other guerrillas were holed up, the Interior Ministry said.