Man killed identified as Oklahoman

Tuesday, October 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ A top Saudi official would not rule out a possible link between the Sept. 11 terror attacks and an explosion here that killed an Oklahoma man and another foreigner.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said in comments published Monday that a number of witnesses are being questioned about Saturday's explosion. No arrests have been made.

The explosion, believed to have been a parcel bomb thrown by a pedestrian into a busy shopping district in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar, also injured five people, including an American, a Briton and two Filipinos.

Michael Martin of Duncan, Okla., an employee of Dallas-based Halliburton Co., was killed, the company's public relations department said Monday. Another employee of the world's top provider of oil field services, Keith Maples, also of Duncan, was injured.

No other information was immediately available, Halliburton officials said.

Authorities have not identified the second person killed in the blast.

In an interview with the Saudi daily Okaz, Nayef said: ``It is not currently possible to affirm or deny whether the Khobar bombing'' is related either to the attacks on New York and Washington or a string of bombings over the past year that have targeted foreigners.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah said the perpetrators of Saturday's attack ``will be brought to justice,'' describing the explosion as ``wrongful and cowardly'' in comments carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia closed Monday for a security review, warning Americans in the country to be extra cautious following the Khobar bombing and the U.S.-British attacks in Afghanistan, where Saudi exile Osama bin Laden is hiding. Bin Laden is suspected of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.

About 11,000 U.S. civilians live in around Khobar, many employed in the oil and construction industries. Several thousand more military personnel are stationed in the area.

In 1996, 19 U.S. servicemen were killed when members of the dissident Saudi Hezbollah group bombed the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, near Khobar. U.S. prosecutors have indicted 14 people in that case.