RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Five militants killed during a three-day battle with security forces this week have been identified as al-Qaida members on the country’s most-wanted list, the Saudi Interior Ministry said Thursday.
Four policemen were also killed in the confrontation in the eastern Saudi city of Damman. The battle ended about midday Tuesday when special forces stormed the seaside villa the militants had taken over.
“It became clear that five of the deviant group were killed and authorities proved through DNA testing that they were part of a group of wanted men previously announced,” said the statement, which was carried on the official Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia uses the term “deviant group” to describe al-Qaida.
Thursday’s statement was the first time that the authorities had given a final tally of the militants slain. One had already been identified as the No. 3 on the kingdom’s new most-wanted list: Zaid Saad Zaid al-Samari, 31, a Saudi.
The other four, all Saudis, were named in the statement as: Saleh Mansour Mohsen al-Fereidi al-Harbi, 22; Sultan Saleh Hussan al-Haseri, 26; Naif Farhan Jalal al-Jehaishi al-Shammari, 24; and Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Mohammed al-Suwailmi, 23.
The government is waging a campaign against Islamic militants who have staged numerous terror attacks since May 2003. In a bid to cripple the economy, the militants have tended to target Westerners, who occupy important positions in the oil industry.
King Abdullah, who ascended the throne in early August after the death of his half-brother Fahd, has vowed to push ahead with the crackdown. Al-Qaida seeks to topple the Saudi royal family because of its close ties with the West, particularly the United States.
During the past year, Saudi forces have claimed a series of victories, killing or capturing all but one of the figures on the first list of 26 most-wanted militants, which was issued in December 2004.