KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has tightened security at oil facilities after the country's anti-terror chief, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, escaped a suicide attack, guards at Abqaiq, the world's biggest oil processing plant, said yesterday.
"Thursday night we received a call to tighten security and car inspection at all gates," one guard said. "Even Aramco employees undergo inspection. There's a lack of trust as militants disguised in Aramco's cars attacked the facility in 2006," he said.
Interior Minister Prince Nayef yesterday defended the policy of enticing "repentant" militants after one tried to assassinate his son, but warned there could be more attacks ahead.
"The security efforts and strategy that the country is following will not change," Prince Nayef said in Jeddah. "This incident will not change this policy by which we open the door for those who repent."
Al Qaeda, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack and said that the bomber, Abdullah Hassan Taleh Al Asiri, had managed to pass security checkpoints and board a private aircraft, Site Intelligence said yesterday.
A statement posted on jihadist forums by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said Al Asiri passed through checkpoints at Najran airport, near the Yemeni border, and Jeddah airport, the US monitoring service said.
He then boarded Prince Mohammed's private jet with his explosives, according to the statement, which said he finally blew himself up amongst the prince's guards. The site also published a picture of Asiri.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said Asiri was a 23-year-old Saudi whose brother Ibrahim was also on the wanted list.
It said the attacker concealed the explosives in his anus, allowing him to evade detection.
The network also quoted an expert as saying that the method of concealment aimed the blast away from the target, while blowing the bomber to bits
Prince Nayef, believed to be 76, was appointed second deputy prime minister earlier this year, leaving him in charge of the country when King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan - who are both in their 80s - are abroad.
Prince Sultan has been out of the country since November because of unspecified illness and surgery.
King Abdullah has set up an "Allegiance Council" of senior princes to vote on future kings and their deputies.
According to analysts, the attack is expected to strengthen the position of Prince Nayef.
Meanwhile, violence is continuing in Yemen where the security forces are fighting to crush a rebellion.
Nine tribesmen who were fighting alongside the army have been killed in a mortar attack, tribal sources said yesterday. Sixteen other fighters were also wounded in the mountainous region of Sawad, near Saudi Arabia, they said.
l A Saudi lawyer has demanded a public apology from a number of Danish dailies that reprinted
a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in February 2008, Danish media reported yesterday.
Faisal A Z Yamani sent an e-mail to the newspapers that republished the drawing first printed in 2005 and demanded that they print an apology by the end of September, news agencies reported.