Briton Killed in Saudi Arabia

A car bomb explosion killed a British banker in the Saudi capital on Thursday.

Quoting the chief of Riyadh police, the official Saudi Press Agency said the victim's four-wheel-drive vehicle exploded.

In London, the Foreign Office said the explosion happened in the street outside a residential compound. Most Westerners in Saudi Arabia live in guarded, high-walled compounds.

A Foreign Office spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the dead man as Simon Veness, a banker. He worked for Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi, the police chief told SPA.

There were no other casualties in the 8:54 a.m. explosion, the police chief was quoted as saying.

"We're going to repeat our specific advice on vehicle security. It's of the highest importance to take security precautions and check your vehicle," a British Embassy official said on condition of anonymity.

Concerns about anti-Western sentiments have surfaced in the kingdom since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the ensuing war on terrorism that many Saudis see as an assault on Islam. But there have been no reports of violence linked to anti-Western extremists in the kingdom.

The explosion came two days after Saudi Arabia announced that it had arrested a group of 13 people suspected to have links to Saudi-born dissident Usama bin Laden's terror network.

The British Embassy, in a warning notice posted on its Web site Wednesday, took note of the arrests.

"This provides a good opportunity to remind you once again of the current advice that British nationals should maintain sensible security precautions and vigilance," the warning read.

Bin Laden is an Islamic extremist who has denounced the presence of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites.

The bombing follows a series of similar blasts in the country.

Two bombings in Riyadh in late 2000 killed a Briton and injured four others. A Scottish man was injured in an explosion in Khobar in December 2000. In March 2001, a Briton and an Egyptian were injured in a bombing outside a large downtown Riyadh bookstore. In May 2001, an American was seriously injured in Khobar when the package he was opening exploded in his face.

Saudi officials said those blasts arose from disputes between gangs smuggling alcohol, which is forbidden in the kingdom under Islamic laws but is not difficult to obtain.

Five Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian have been arrested in connection with the bombings and are awaiting trial.