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Britain Renews Terror Warning in Saudi Arabia
The New York Times - 9/08/2006 - 01:08 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Aug. 8 - The Foreign Office in Britain issued renewed warnings on Monday that attacks by terrorists might be imminent in Saudi Arabia, echoing a warning by the United States that prompted it to close its diplomatic missions there on Monday.

"We continue to believe that terrorists are planning further attacks in Saudi Arabia, including against Westerners and places associated with Westerners," said a warning from the Foreign Office on the British Embassy Web site. "We believe aviation interests remain a possible terrorist target."

The Foreign Office said it had allowed nonessential employees working in its offices in Saudi Arabia to leave if they chose. It warned Britons who stayed to make sure they were confident about their individual security arrangements and to maintain a high level of vigilance, especially in public places.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs warned citizens to avoid travel to the kingdom, saying militants might be planning attacks on housing compounds, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the United States Embassy announced that all diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia would be closed for at least Monday and Tuesday, in response to possible threats against American buildings. No specific details were provided, but a statement posted on the embassy's Web site had warned of "ongoing security concerns in the region, including for seaborne vessels traveling in the southern Red Sea."

Diplomats in Saudi Arabia have been on a high state of alert since a series of attacks on foreigners and United States interests, including an attack on the consulate in Jidda last December that killed five consulate employees and four attackers.

King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, who assumed the throne on Aug. 1 after the death of Fahd, his half brother, has vowed to continue an aggressive campaign against militants in the country. Saudi security forces have captured or killed all but 3 men on a list of 26 most wanted suspects first published in 2003. In June, the government issued a new list of 36 men wanted in connection with terrorist groups.

On Monday, King Abdullah, in his first meeting with his cabinet, pardoned three people arrested almost two years ago for calling for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and released several Libyans held in connection with what was believed to have been an assassination plot against him. Abdullah said he hoped the move "would be a constructive step towards closing the ranks of the Arab nation."

Jafar al-Shayeb, a prominent advocate of political change, said, "This is clearly a boost for reform efforts and makes way for our requests to be considered."

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