An American was shot dead and another injured Tuesday in eastern Riyadh, in one of the rare attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia in recent years. Police in the Saudi capital announced that the assailant was arrested.
The Saudi General Mansour Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said, according to the daily Al-Madina website, that the author of the attack was a Saudi citizen born in the United States.
The two Americans were shot at while they were in a car at a gas station in the Saudi capital. Alerted, the police managed to encircle the assailant who was arrested after being wounded in a shootout with security forces.
In a brief statement released by the official SPA news agency, police said the wounded American had been hospitalized. The police, however, did not specify the reasons for the attack, stating that an investigation was underway.
The Embassy of the United States in Riyadh could not be reached immediately.
The attack came as Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in air strikes against the Islamic state jihadist group in Syria, along with four other Arab countries, members of a coalition led by the United States.
But no immediate link has been established between the attack in Riyadh and the coalition’s operations.
In recent years, Westerners have rarely been targeted by attacks in Saudi Arabia.
In January, two German diplomats were attacked in eastern Saudi Arabia, but suffered no injuries.
From 2003 to 2006, many Westerners were killed in a wave of attacks by the Al-Qaeda network. The perpetrators of these attacks were tried in courts specialized in terrorism. Some were even sentenced to death.
After the repression of the Saudi authorities against the extremist network in the kingdom, many members of the group fled and settled in Yemen.
The Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda then were merge in 2009 to create Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the branch of the network considered the most dangerous by the United States.