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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saudis Link Al-Qaida to Compound Attack

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi authorities have linked al-Qaida to the coordinated attacks on foreigners' housing compounds in the capital that killed at least 34 people.

About 2,000 Saudi civil defense workers searched for evidence of the attackers' identities and methods Wednesday.

The Saudi Interior Ministry raised its death toll to 34 Wednesday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah on Tuesday night, pledging U.S. support for the kingdom's "fight against terrorism," the Saudi Press Agency said.

The United States ordered most of its nonessential diplomats and family members to leave Saudi Arabia, but it dispatched FBI investigators to Riyadh.

The State Department in Washington has put the American death toll at eight. The Saudis say nearly 200 people were wounded, most not seriously, and 40 of these are believed to be Americans.

A German resident of the al-Hamra compound said Wednesday that she and other residents "feel really scared. Things are going to get worse for us now," said the woman, who gave only her first name, Ilka. Asked whether she planned to leave Saudi Arabia, where she has lived for eight years, she replied: "We haven't decided that yet, but it's a possibility."

Bush called the attacks "despicable," and said "the United States will find the killers, and they will learn the meaning of American justice."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Parliament on Wednesday that the attacks were "a cowardly and disgraceful terrorist atrocity."

The British Foreign Office did not confirm a British fatality reported by the Saudis, but said two Britons were unaccounted for and another 15 had been slightly wounded.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said the attacks were "suicide operations." The Saudi government said the attacks were connected to the 19 al-Qaida operatives who engaged in a May 6 gunfight with police in Riyadh.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who arrived in Saudi Arabia for an official visit hours after the blasts, said they had "the fingerprints of al-Qaida."

On Monday night, it took the bombers 30 seconds to a minute to get through an iron gate, drive up to the building and detonate explosives, a U.S. official with Powell said.

After killing the sentries, the bombers pushed the button that opened the iron gate. "They had to know where the switches were," said the official, suggesting the terrorists had inside information.

There had been indications that a terrorist attack might be imminent. A counterterrorism official in Washington said information from the past two weeks indicated al-Qaida had been planning a strike in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, the State Department advised Americans to avoid travel to Saudi Arabia because of increased terrorism concerns.