US defense contractor says staff targeted in Saudi shooting

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 01, 2015 6:07 AM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A U.S. defense contractor confirmed Sunday that two of its American employees were shot at in Saudi Arabia, marking the second time in less than four months that the company's staff has been targeted.

Friday's shooting is likely to deepen the sense of unease among the Western expatriates working in the kingdom, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants and has been on heightened alert about possible terrorist attacks.

Vinnell Arabia said in a brief statement that the shooting took place in the oil-rich kingdom's eastern al-Ahsa province.

"Both employees were injured but are in stable condition at a local hospital. We are working closely with the Saudi authorities and the U.S. State Department in response to their ongoing inquiries," the company said.

The official Saudi Press Agency said the Americans came under fire "from an unknown source" as they were traveling along a road in the city of al-Mubarraz at around 2 p.m. local time Friday. It said only one of the Americans was injured.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the shooting.

In October, a Vinnell employee was killed and another was wounded in a shooting near the company's facilities in the capital, Riyadh.

Saudi officials blamed that shooting on Saudi-American dual national Abdulaziz Fahad Abdulaziz Alrashid, 24, who had recently been fired from the company for drug-related issues. He was arrested by police.

Vinnell Arabia is partly owned by Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman Corp. It has been active in the kingdom for decades and is involved in training and providing additional support to the Saudi Arabian National Guard, which is a separate force from the country's military.

From 2003 to 2007, al-Qaida linked militants carried out attacks in Saudi Arabia aimed at destabilizing the Western-allied monarchy, including deadly bombings of residential compounds housing foreigners in Riyadh in 2003.

___

Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck