Four attackers entered a Saudi compound and opened fire on workers Saturday, killing six, Saudi officials said.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said three of the attackers worked at the compound.
Saudi authorities believe the four people who carried out the attack are on a list of 26 wanted militants released in December. Many of the people on that list are linked to al Qaeda, they said.
The U.S. Embassy confirmed that two Americans were killed in the attack in the Red Sea industrial town of Yanbu, and a third was wounded.
The Australian Foreign Office said a 57-year-old Australian man died, and the British Embassy said two Britons were killed. Officials also reported the death of a Saudi police officer.
Two of the attackers blew themselves up in a stolen car as they were being chased by police; a third was killed by security, and the fourth was shot, captured and later died of his wounds, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.
Several of the victims were employees of the petrochemical company ABB Lummus Global Inc., part of Switzerland-based ABB Ltd.
The attack occurred at an oil refinery co-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp., The Associated Press quoted company officials and diplomats as saying.
Some of the Western staff at the ABB Lummus company will be evacuated, an oil executive said on Sunday.
“Some of the ABB Lummus staff who had been traumatized will be evacuated and they will probably not return after what happened,” the executive told Reuters, adding that the Swiss-based oil engineering firm had about 90 employees in the Red Sea oil city of Yanbu.
“But the rest of ABB Lummus staff in Saudi (about 110 people) will continue to work.”
Diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada were traveling to the area to investigate the incident.
The Canadian Foreign Ministry said it had reports but no immediate confirmation that two Canadians were wounded.
One Saudi policeman was wounded, police said.
The Saudi Interior Ministry, in information read on state-run television, said 18 Saudi security members were wounded, along with one American, one Pakistani and one Canadian.
U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James C. Oberwetter issued a statement saying, “The kind of horrific attacks that happened today in Yanbu must be condemned by all those who want to see peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
“The United States appreciates everything the Saudi authorities are doing to fight terrorism, including here in the kingdom,” he added.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw issued a statement saying, “I am shocked and sickened by this act of terrorism. My sympathies are with the friends and families of all of the victims of this horrific attack … The perpetrators of this atrocious attack clearly have no respect for innocent lives. We cannot let the terrorists succeed.
“The Saudi authorities have our full support and are working hard to tackle terrorism. We stand ready to offer assistance.”
A senior U.S. State Department official said the United States has been saying for the past year that economic facilities and infrastructure are likely targets of terrorists.
A Pakistani driver was wounded during the shootout Saturday.
The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, mourned the loss of lives in the attack.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the innocent victims of the horrific attack in Yanbu early this morning,” al-Faisal said.
“We will not be discouraged by this brutal incident in which innocent lives were lost … and many people injured in an indiscriminate evil rampage.”
This is the first known attack on international workers in Yanbu, a port city north of Jeddah.
A Yanbu resident said by telephone that police had set up checkpoints throughout the city, and that some of the Westerners involved in the oil industry in Yanbu were unable to reach their workplaces because of the heavy police presence, AP reported.
This week Abdul Aziz al-Mukrin, the man believed to be the top al Qaeda operative in Saudi Arabia, threatened to hit Saudi security forces hard — to “shake the ground underneath their feet” — if they try to stop the jihad launched by the terrorist network.
He warned Muslims to stay away from Americans or risk being hurt in attacks.
Al-Mukrin denied al Qaeda was responsible for the suicide bombing last week of an old Saudi security headquarters building that killed five people and wounded 147.
Prince blames ‘Zionists’
Crown Prince Abdullah said on Saudi state-run television that “Zionists” are behind terrorist attacks in his country.
Abdullah and other Saudi officials have consistently blamed al Qaeda for attacks on Saudi soil, and the terrorist network has claimed responsibility for several.
Abdullah did not suggest that Israelis or Israel supporters plotted or carried out any of the attacks. But he said, “I am 95 percent sure that Zionism is behind the attacks, for I believe that [Zionists] play in the minds of those who are committing the attacks.”
He did not spell out precisely how he believes Zionists influence those launching the acts of terrorism in his kingdom.