American killed by gunman at Saudi Arabia gas station

A gunman on Tuesday opened fire on two American employees of a US defense contractor, killing one and wounding the other at a gas station in Saudi Arabia. US officials were in close contact with the Saudi government as they gathered details about the shooting and a possible motive, a official said.

A gunman on Tuesday opened fire on two American employees of a U.S. defense contractor, killing one and wounding the other at a gas station in Saudi Arabia's capital, security and diplomatic officials said.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was related to terrorism. The incident is reminiscent of a wave of al-Qaida attacks launched around a decade ago that targeted security forces and foreigners, including American citizens.

The official Saudi Press Agency quoted a Riyadh police spokesman saying that the kingdom's security forces tracked down the gunman and exchanged fire with him, before wounding and arresting him. The spokesman did not release any further details about the gunman.

SPA reported that the police spokesman, who was not identified, said the mid-afternoon attack occurred while the Americans were inside a vehicle at a gas station in the eastern part of the capital. The second American had "moderate" injuries, the agency reported.

The Americans were employees of Vinnell Arabia, a U.S. defense contractor supporting Saudi National Guard military programs in Riyadh, and were shot about a kilometer (half-mile) from its facility in the city, a State Department official said. The site is also near the Saudi National Guard headquarters.

U.S. officials were in close contact with Saudi government as they gathered details about the shooting and a possible motive, the official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was at a very preliminary stage and he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

U.S. authorities were also evaluating their security posture, and will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all U.S. Mission personnel, the official said.

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Turki declined to provide further details when contacted by the AP.

The attack was likely to send chills through the Western expatriate workforce in the kingdom.

In September, Saudi police said they had arrested 88 people suspected of being part of an al-Qaida cell that was planning attacks inside and outside the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia and four other Arab countries are taking part in U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida fighters in Iraq and Syria. Militants have vowed revenge.

The Islamic State group's spokesman has also urged sympathizers to kill Americans and those from other countries that are carrying out airstrikes against the group.

Attacks by al-Qaida militants from 2003 to 2007 were aimed at destabilizing and toppling the Western-allied monarchy. Among the most stunning attacks were deadly bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh where foreigners lived in 2003.

Saudi officials responded at the time with a massive crackdown that saw many al-Qaida operatives killed or arrested. Others fled to neighboring Yemen, giving birth to one of the group's most active branches.


Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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