Death toll in Saudi border attack rises to 3 -UPDATED

Attackers killed three Saudi Arabian border guards including a senior officer and injured a third on the kingdom's frontier with Iraq in a rare shooting

Death toll in Saudi border attack rises to 3 -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

The death toll from an attack on a Saudi border patrol near the border with Iraq early Monday morning has risen to three, Saudi authorities have said, noting that four attackers had also been killed in the confrontation.

"At 4:30am, four individuals were spotted trying to infiltrate the Saudi border near the Suweif area in the Arar region," Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

"When border guards moved to intercept them, they opened fire on the troops, prompting the latter to act accordingly," al-Turki said.

"One [infiltrator] was killed and a second detonated an explosive belt he was wearing, killing himself," he added.

"The remaining two fled to the Arar Valley area, but were surrounded by security forces who demanded that they give themselves up," the spokesman said.

He added: "But one blew himself up while the other was shot dead by security forces."

The confrontation, he said, had left three security personnel dead, including Brig. Gen. Oudeh al-Balwi, and two others injured, the spokesman noted.

The attack came only hours after an Iraqi military official told The Anadolu Agency that Iraqi border guards managed to repel an attack by ISIL militants on a checkpoint on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is one of the members of the U.S.-led international coalition that had carried more than 1,200 air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria since August, according to a joint task force leading the operations.

The alliance also includes France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and others.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault, which hit a remote desert area next to Iraq's Anbar province where both the ISIL militant group and Shi'ite Muslim militias close to Riyadh's foe Iran operate.

The use of a suicide bomber pointed to ISIL, said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi security analyst with close ties to Saudi Arabia's interior ministry.

"It is the first attack by ISIL itself against Saudi Arabia and is a clear message after Saudi Arabia entered the international coalition against it," he said.

Saudi Arabia boosted its security on the frontier in July, adding thousands of troops to back up a border guards force, after ISIL seized swathes of territory in Iraq including in Anbar province.

The border remained a formidable barrier for militants, despite the early morning raid, said Alani.

"How many times can you do this attack? The border itself is still very strong. The only fear of them getting into Saudi Arabia is via one of the kingdom's other borders," he said.

Iraq: ISIL did not attack Saudi through our borders

Iraq's checkpoints on the border with Saudi Arabia were not attacked by the ISIL, according to an Iraqi border guards source.

The source, who spoke to The Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, also said that Iraqi forces were in full control of the security situation in the area.

“There is no coordination between Iraqi border guards in Anbar and the Saudi border guards command," the source added. "We do not know how terrorist factions attacked the Saudi border.”

The Suweif border post, which Reuters visited in July and is only open to traffic during the annual haj pilgrimage, is 40 km (25 miles) from the Saudi city of Arar and 80 km from the Iraqi city of al-Nukhayb, which is held by the government.

Riyadh said last month that the killing of eight Shi'ites in al-Ahsa province was carried out by gunmen linked to ISIL, and that supporters of the group were also behind the shooting of a Danish citizen in November who survived.

In July an al Qaeda raiding party from Yemen killed four border guards on the kingdom's southern frontier in a gunfight before two militants entered a police building in the nearby town of al-Sharurah and exploded a bomb, killing themselves.

 

Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2015, 21:04
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