Shootout Between Saudi Police, Militants Kills Four

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Security forces checking an illegally parked truck Tuesday were fired at by gunmen in a nearby car, triggering a shootout that left three security men and one suspected militant dead, the Interior Ministry said.

The incident occurred in Shubra (search), a western suburb of the capital, Riyadh (search), said a ministry statement read on Saudi television.

After security forces were fired upon by militants using a heavy machine gun, more security patrols arrived at the scene. Two security men and one militant were wounded in the ensuing shootout, while several other militants were arrested, the report said.

The truck was confiscated and investigations are ongoing, the statement said. Parts of the neighborhood were cordoned off by police late Tuesday and helicopters circled the neighborhood.

The government has been cracking down on Islamic militants since May 12 suicide attacks in Riyadh killed 26 people and nine attackers. Saudi police have stepped up efforts to crush networks of Al Qaeda (search), the terror network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks and the Riyadh bombings.

On Monday, Saudi police arrested 10 militants who allegedly belonged to a terrorist cell planning to attack a British target, according to a Saudi government official.

The bombings in Riyadh sparked unprecedented public discussion of the role of religion in Saudi society, with some daring to argue that the strict form of Islam preached in the kingdom fostered intolerance and extremism.

More than 200 suspects have been arrested and more than a dozen killed in a series of high-profile police raids.