Leaders condemn bomb attack in Saudi capital
( 2003-11-10 16:20) (Agencies)
Leaders around the world condemned Sunday's lethal car bomb attack on a housing compound in the Saudi capital Riyadh, some saying that killing innocent civilians violated Muslim teaching.
"Criminal acts like these...cannot be the work of real Muslims, because the Islamic religion forbids the killing of peaceful people," Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri said in a statement.
"They are the work of those who are the enemies of religion and humanity alike."
Similar views were voiced in Iran, where state television quoted Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as saying "Killing innocent people, including women and children, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, is immoral, inhuman and against religious beliefs."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also issued strong condemnations of the attack, in which suspected al Qaeda suicide bombers blew up an explosives-laden car, killing 11 people and wounding 122 in the residential compound housing mainly Arabs.
Further afield, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the attack an act of "hideous barbarity" and said in a statement that "This was indiscriminate murder of men, women and children of various nationalities during the holy month of Ramadan."
In Moscow, the foreign ministry said "We see this as another crime committed by the global terrorist network," and called for "joint efforts by the entire international community to combat terror" -- a demand echoed by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
Non-government experts had their own views on the implications of the latest deadly attack in the Saudi capital.
Al Qaeda expert Magnus Ranstorp, of Scotland's St Andrews University, said the attack was almost certainly directed from inside Saudi Arabia as part of a campaign to bring down what the militants regard as a corrupt, Western-backed regime.
"This is nothing to do with the war against the West...(It's about) trying to mobilize strength against the Saudi regime. It's embarrassing to the Saudi authorities," he said. "There's no doubt it is al Qaeda-inspired."
He said the attack should be seen as an "opening salvo" and part of a deliberate strategy to encourage the Saudis to crack down more and in turn create conditions for further dissent and attacks. It was also designed to encourage foreigners to leave.
Familiar conspiracy theories surfaced among ordinary people asked for their reaction to the attack.
"Israel did it (the bombing). It's the daughter of America. Israel carried out the bombing so the Americans could blame it on Muslims," declared Mohammed, 72, sitting at his central Cairo roadside stall selling bread and radish.
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