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RIYADH: At least 29 people were killed and 194 injured in suicide bombings that rocked three expatriate compounds in Riyadh, the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia announced yesterday.

The dead included seven Saudis, seven Americans, two Jordanian children, two Filipinos, a Lebanese and a Swiss. Nine charred bodies believed to be the attackers were also found, the ministry said in a statement.

Ten people were killed in the first explosion overnight at Al-Hamra compound, two died at Al-Jadawel compound, and eight died at the Vinnell complex, the ministry added.

In Canberra, a foreign affairs spokeswoman said a 39-year-old Sydney man, who worked for a computer company in the Saudi capital, died in the blasts, and another Australian was injured.

And in Amman, a senior Jordanian official said five Jordanians, including two children, were killed. The three adults were all men, one of whom had dual Jordanian-Saudi nationality, the official said.

The ministry made no mention of the Australians or the Jordanian adults.

It added that the majority of those wounded suffered minor injuries but did not provide a breakdown of their nationalities.

The attacks were "suicide bombings using booby-trapped cars filled with explosives," it said.

Security men guarding the residential compounds exchanged fire with the bombers, which helped avoid a larger number of casualties due to the high "quality and large quantity of explosives used," the ministry said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier told reporters after arriving here on a previously scheduled stop of a Mideast tour that 10 Americans were feared dead and many other foreigners had lost their lives in the attacks.

The Al-Hamra blast claimed the life of Mohammed al-Blaihed, a 35-year-old son of Riyadh's deputy governor Abdullah al-Blaihed, and Jihad Dalloul, a nephew of former Lebanese Defence Minister Mohsen Dalloul, as well as two Filipino workers.

The charred bodies of four armed men were found in a car at the scene of the attack, residents said.

US embassy officials reported more than 40 Americans wounded. "At least 44 Americans were injured. Their wounds vary - some are critical, others were cut by flying glass," said John Burgess, public affairs counsellor at the embassy, adding that all were civilians.

A "small number" of Britons were among the wounded, a British embassy spokesman said. The known casualties were "not seriously injured."

Some Dutch, Japanese, Italian and Spanish nationals were also among the injured, report said.

The blasts targetted the Al-Hamra and Al-Jadawel residential compounds, and a third complex housing residences of families of personnel with the US firm Vinnell which trains the Saudi National Guard headed by Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, according to Burgess.

Residents at Vinnell said the Saudi killed in that blast was a guard at the premises.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers linked to the al-Qaida terror network.

Agencies via Xinhua

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