Saudi Arabia's most wanted militants died in custody

One of Saudi Arabia's most wanted militants has died in custody after being wounded in a running gunbattle in which he killed five policemen, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Mohammed al-Suwailmi, who was No. 7 on the list of the kingdom's 15 Most Wanted suspects, died late Tuesday, bringing to nine the number of people on the list who have been captured or killed. Police are looking for a second man involved in the gunbattles that led to al-Suwailmi's capture, the ministry statement said.

Tuesday's violence began when al-Suwailmi fired from a car at a police patrol outside the city of Buraydah, northwest of Riyadh, the ministry said. He killed two policemen.

He then drove 20 kilometers (12 miles) southwest toward the town of Al-Midhnab, where he encountered at a security checkpoint. He opened fire again, killing three more police officers, the ministry said. Police chased the car and fired at it. Al-Suwailmi was wounded and captured, the statement said.

In the car, police found six hand-grenades, three Kalashnikov rifles, 17 loaded magazines, five pistols, five faked car license plates, electronic equipment, jewelry, and about 500,000 Saudi rials (about US$133,000), the ministry said. Al-Suwailmi died later of his wounds, the statement added.

Al-Suwailmi, 23, was involved in recruitment and propaganda for Islamic militant groups, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite television reported.

The Saudi authorities initially reported his death in September, giving al-Suwailmi the pleasure of releasing an audiotape on the Internet in which he said he was alive and well. The authorities then said they had mistaken him for his brother, Ahmed, who had just been killed in a shootout with security forces, reports the AP. I.L.

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