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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Car Bomb Hits Riyadh Homes

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A car bomb attack Saudi officials said appeared to be by the al-Qaida terror network killed at least 11 people and wounded more than 100 in an upscale Riyadh neighborhood, shattering an evening during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Saudi Interior Ministry, quoted by the kingdom's official news agency, said the 11 dead included Saudis, Lebanese, Sudanese and Egyptians, among them four children, but did not have a more specific breakdown. The ministry said 122 were injured, but all but 25 had been discharged from hospitals by Sunday afternoon.

The Saturday night blasts came after gunmen exchanged fire with security guards in a compound of about 200 houses where most of the residents were Lebanese. Some Saudis also live there, plus a few European families.

An Interior Ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the compound attack was by a suicide car bomber and similar in style to a series of May 12 car bombings in Riyadh compounds housing foreigners that were blamed on al-Qaida. Those blasts killed 35 people, including nine suicide bombers. Some witnesses said Saturday's car bombers used what appeared to be a police car. Immediately after the explosion, there were widely conflicting reports of the death toll.

Early Sunday, Al-Arabiya TV, quoting unnamed Saudi sources, reported the discovery of an unspecified number of bodies belonging to attackers involved in the blast. The Interior Ministry official said he did not know how many attackers were involved.

In comments published Sunday on the web site of Saudi daily Okaz, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said they could not rule out a connection to suspected al-Qaida terrorist cells targeted in recent sweeps, as a number of suspects from those cells were still at large.

By targeting foreigners' housing compounds, the attackers were targeting the backbone of the Saudi economy. Saudi Arabia is home to 6 million expatriate workers, including about 35,000 Americans and 30,000 Britons. The kingdom relies on foreigners in its oil industry, security forces and health sector.

Saudi officials have been cracking down on homegrown militants since the May 12 bombings in Riyadh. In the past week, police clashed with suspected al-Qaida sympathizers in the streets of the sacred city of Mecca on Monday, killing two militants and uncovering a large cache of weapons. Three days later, two suspected militants blew themselves up in Mecca to avoid arrest and a third suspect was killed in a shootout with security forces in Riyadh.

Saturday's attack occurred a day after the U.S. Embassy issued a warning that terror attacks could be imminent in the tense Gulf kingdom.

The Saudi Interior Ministry statement said four U.S. citizens and six Canadians had been injured.

The deputy interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, toured the site early Sunday. Saudi security kept people away from the compound.

Almost all the foreign embassies in Riyadh -- including the U.S. Embassy -- and most diplomats' homes are inside the diplomatic quarter, a guarded, isolated neighborhood. Several residential compounds housing Western business people are close to the diplomatic quarter.