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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saudi Group Claims 6 Moslems Arrested in Bombing

DUBAI -- A Saudi opposition group claimed Wednesday that six Moslem militants have been arrested and have confessed to the truck bombing that killed 19 U.S. airmen in eastern Saudi Arabia.

Neither Saudi nor U.S. officials have announced any arrests in the June 25 attack on a U.S. military housing complex near Dhahran, and the claims by the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, a London-based group, could not be independently confirmed.

Saad al-Fagih, head of the opposition movement, said by telephone from London that the suspects were being held in a prison in Jubail, a port city 72 kilometers northwest of Dhahran.

Fagih cited unidentified Saudi security and Interior Ministry sources as saying most of the suspects were from the Dhahran suburb of Thugba.

In Saudi Arabia, U.S. Embassy and Saudi officials refused to comment Wednesday on the claim.

In Washington, a Clinton administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that an unknown number of people had been detained for questioning.

The official said it was not known if Saudi investigators had made any formal arrests.

Fagih said most of the suspects were trained in Afghanistan, where Moslem militants fought with Afghan rebels to overthrow a Moscow-allied regime.

Fagih said "hundreds" of people in Saudi Arabia have been arrested since the bombing.

He said the six confessed last month after being arrested, adding that the suspects are Sunni Moslems, the sect that accounts for the majority of the kingdom's 11 million citizens.

The Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia is a fundamentalist Moslem group that opposes the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

The group does not openly advocate the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy. It says it is a nonviolent group that wants "freedom of expression and assembly, and the dismantling of the secret security apparatus in Saudi Arabia."

Another London-based Saudi opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, said last week that two Kuwaiti and two Lebanese suspects were arrested in Kuwait and handed over to Saudi authorities. Kuwait has not announced any arrests or extraditions in connection with the June bombing.

The Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights quoted Interior Ministry sources in Saudi Arabia as saying that "the whole interrogation process revolves around the possible implication of Iran." Predominantly Shiite Iran has denied any involvement in the bombings.

The United States has about 5,000 military personnel in Saudi Arabia.

King Fahd considers the American presence necessary to protect his kingdom from its main rivals, Iran and Iraq. However, some Saudis oppose any Western military presence in the kingdom, home to Islam's holiest shrines.

The June blast followed a car bombing last November that killed five U.S. military personnel at an American-run military facility in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia beheaded four Saudi men in May after they confessed to carrying out the Riyadh bombing. They said their action was inspired by militant Moslem groups elsewhere in the Arab world.

U.S. officials were not given access to the four before they were executed. Washington wants to make sure that does not happen again.