British Man Shot Dead in Saudi Arabia

Published September 16, 2004

| Associated Press

Saudi police are seeking two young men in the killing of a Briton in a Riyadh parking lot, the Interior Ministry said Thursday, and the British ambassador called it a terrorist attack.

Edward Stuart Muirhead-Smith, 55, was killed at the Max shopping center in eastern Riyadh (search) on Wednesday, British Embassy spokesman Salah Taha told The Associated Press.

Muirhead-Smith worked for the British telecommunications corporation Marconi (search) as a training manager, according to a company spokesman.

The two assailants were younger than 30 and "wore traditional Saudi robes," said Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki.

One of them shot Muirhead-Smith in his car and they fled in their own car, which police are trying to trace, al-Turki said. Saudi media reported he was shot four times.

The ministry has not said the killing was an act of terrorism, and al-Turki said the investigation was continuing.

But British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles (search) condemned the killing as a terrorist attack.

He said Muirhead-Smith's family and friends "should know — as the terrorists must know — that his murder will only make the British government more determined to stand with the Saudi government and people in the struggle against senseless terror of this kind."

Muirhead-Smith had been hired in Saudi Arabia and had worked for the company for a year, said Marconi spokesman David Beck in Britain.

"It seems he was singled out at a parking lot for no other reason other than because he was a Westerner," Beck told the AP.

Marconi, which employs about 600 people in the Middle East, provides telecommunications network services to the Saudi government, including the Defense Ministry, but does not supply any military hardware to the country, he said.

Militants have targeted foreigners in Saudi Arabia to drive them out of the country. The Saudi economy, especially the oil sector, depends on such workers.

In May, two Britons were among six Westerners killed by militants who sprayed gunfire inside an oil contractor's office in Yanbu, 220 miles north of the Red Sea port of Jiddah.

Later that month, a Briton was among 22 people killed in a hostage-taking in Khobar, an oil hub 250 miles northeast of Riyadh.

A British Broadcasting Corp. cameraman was shot and killed in Riyadh in June in an attack that also wounded a BBC correspondent.

On Saturday, an explosion rocked the Saudi port city of Jiddah on the Red Sea near a branch of the Saudi-American bank.

Saudi Arabia has been hunting Al Qaeda-linked militants behind a series of bombings and shootings in the Gulf kingdom that have targeted the U.S.-allied Saudi regime, security authorities and foreign interests.

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