Published September 27, 2004
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Saudi police arrested a militant after an overnight car chase and shootout in the streets of Riyadh, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Monday.
Brig. Mansour al-Turki also said a preliminary investigation indicated that the killing of a French technician Sunday was carried out by terrorists.
Laurent Barbot was shot dead while driving his car in the Tarikh area of Jiddah. An employee of the French defense group Thales (search), Barbot worked as a technician on projects for the Saudi navy.
"Initial signs ... indicate that it was an act of terrorism," al-Turki said. "But we are not ruling out other possibilities." There have been no arrests so far.
On Sunday night, a gunbattle broke out when police in a patrol car tried to stop a suspicious vehicle in the Shafa district of Riyadh, al-Turki told The Associated Press in Dubai in telephone interview.
Police chased the car, which had three male passengers. The suspects stopped and hijacked two other cars, forcing their passengers out, in an attempt to evade capture, al-Turki said.
The police believe the three suspects were each injured in the shooting. A bystander was lightly wounded.
None of the suspects pursued was detained, but the police arrested a fourth suspected militant in the area, al-Turki said, without elaboration.
There have been a spate of attacks against foreigners in Saudi Arabia by militants determined to drive foreigners out of the country to hurt the economy. The Saudi economy, particularly the oil sector, depends on foreign workers.
On Sept. 15, gunmen shot dead British national Edward Stuart Muirhead-Smith outside a shopping center in eastern Riyadh. Muirhead-Smith, 55, worked for the British telecommunications corporation Marconi (search). His slaying was claimed by Al Qaeda's (search) main cell in Saudi Arabia in an Internet statement.
Saudi Arabia has been hunting Al Qaeda-linked militants behind a series of bombings and shootings that have targeted the U.S.-allied government, security forces and foreign interests.