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Shooting Kills Irish Journalist in Riyadh

A British reporter for the British Broadcasting Corp. (search) was in critical but stable condition Monday, a day after assailants wounded the correspondent and shot to death his Irish cameraman.

The BBC identified the dead man as Simon Cumbers, 36, and the injured man as BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner (search), 42.

Gardner underwent surgery for abdominal wounds, the BBC said.

"He's in critical but stable condition," British Embassy spokesman Barrie Peach said.

Gardner and Cumbers were accompanied by a minder from the Information Ministry — standard procedure for cameramen and photographers — when they came under fire late Sunday afternoon in the ultraconservative Suweidi neighborhood. The southern Riyadh neighborhood has been the scene of numerous confrontations between government forces and militants.

The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told BBC radio the journalists had gone to film outside the house of a militant. Local news reports said security forces killed the militant in December and that he was on the government list of its 26 most-wanted Al Qaeda operatives.

"As they were doing the filming, somebody drove by and fired at them," Prince Turki said.

He said the BBC would have to consider its future reporting from Saudi Arabia in light of the attack.

The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sherard Cowper-Coles, said the shooting underlined the terrorist threat in the country.

"There is a serious and chronic terrorist threat and people — particularly Westerners, particularly Britons and Americans — need to exercise extreme vigilance and consider their personal safety and security," he told the BBC.

Cumbers was a freelance journalist and cameraman who had worked for Associated Press Television News and London-based ITN (search), the BBC said. After the shooting, Saudi television showed footage of Gardner, sitting in the middle of a street, two bloodstains visible on his white shirt.

There has been a surge of violence in the kingdom despite a high-profile anti-terror campaign that the government began in May 2003 following attacks on residential compounds.

Sunday's shooting came eight days after 22 people, most of them foreigners, were killed in a shooting rampage and hostage-taking in the eastern Saudi oil hub of Khobar. Saudi security forces captured one of the four attackers in the May 29 assault and are still looking for the other three.

On May 22, a German chef was shot and killed outside a bank in Riyadh. The assailants remain at large.

On May 1, a terrorist attack targeted the offices of an American energy company in the western city of Yanbu, killing six Westerners and a Saudi.

The British Foreign Office has advised British nationals against all nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia. The United States has gone further, urging all of its citizens to leave the kingdom — a move criticized by Saudi officials.