Explosion rocks area near Saudi-American Bank in Jiddah, reports of one attacker wounded

Saturday, September 11th 2004, 10:01 am
By: News On 6

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ An explosion rocked the Saudi city of Jiddah on Saturday near a branch of the Saudi-American bank, a bank employee said, and an Arab TV station said one attacker was wounded and others are holed up in a nearby house.

An official at bank, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the explosion in the al-Bawadi area had ``not affected'' the bank's operations.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV said the explosion happened outside the branch.

Al-Arabiya said in a further report that an attacker was wounded and taken to hospital where he is reportedly under close guard.

Several other militants fled the scene in a stolen vehicle to a neighborhood where the U.S. consulate is located and took shelter in an uninhabited house about 700 yards from the consulate, the station reported, adding that about 200 police have sealed the area off.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Robert Keith said that even though there had been ``no incident'' at the American consulate in Jiddah, the mission was closed to the public Saturday as a ``precautionary measure.'' He did not refer to the blast near the bank.

The blast came on the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, which were carried out by 19 Arab militants, including 15 Saudis, and blamed on the al-Qaida terror network headed by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.

Saudi Arabia has been hunting al-Qaida-linked militants behind a series of bombings and shootings in the Gulf kingdom that have targeted the U.S.-allied Saudi regime, security authorities and foreign interests.

Saudi security officials were not immediately available for comment.