Gunmen opened fire Saturday on three complexes used largely by Americans and other foreigners in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and seized a large group of hostages, bringing the terrorist attacks that have plagued the country for the past year into the heart of its oil-producing region.
The official Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Abdullah, the country’s de facto leader, as saying that 10 Saudis and expatriates had been killed. But sporadic gunfire continued into the night in Khobar, the town on the Persian Gulf where the attacks occurred, and the reports remained confused.
The death toll could climb higher, officials from Western embassies and local reporters said.
The gunmen took some hostages at the Oasis Residential Resorts compound in Khobar, a luxury complex of 220 to 250 villas and apartments that is home to many senior Western company executives, including those from Shell, Honeywell and General Electric. About 15 hours after the attack began, the reports varied on the number of people who might still be held. Some said the gunmen were holding 15 people hostage, but other reports, quoting a manager at the Oasis, said they were holding as many as 50.