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NZ trio safe after bomb attacks in Saudi

NZ trio safe after bomb attacks in Saudi

Three New Zealanders registered as living in a housing compound attacked by terrorists in Saudi Arabia today are safe and well, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said.

Three or four bombs were reported to have exploded in Riyadh this morning outside compounds housing westerners. At least three of the bombs were believed to have been in vehicles driven by suicide bombers.

Up to 100 people, many of them Americans, are reported hurt and fatalities are expected. "We have had no reports of any New Zealanders being affected at this stage," Mr Goff said.

"Three of the 450 New Zealanders registered with our Embassy in Riyadh were living in the Al Hamra compound, which appears to have been the main target of the attack, but they are unhurt.

"The Embassy has no record of any New Zealanders living in the Arizona or Cordoba compounds, which were also attacked. However not all New Zealanders living in Saudi are registered with our Embassy there.

"The Foreign Ministry is following up enquiries received during the day and Embassy staff are continuing to seek updates on the situation from the local authorities.

"New Zealanders who have been unable to contact relatives in Riyadh, and believe they may have living in the compounds that were attacked, should contact the consular division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington on 04 439 8000, and if after hours, ask for the Consular Duty Officer.

"Although we don't yet know who was responsible for the attacks, the blasts have been linked to al Qaeda and were clearly targeting residential compounds where US and other westerners live in Riyadh.”

Mr Goff said the New Zealand Embassy had sent a consular letter to all New Zealanders registered with the post in early May, alerting them to US advice that terrorists might be planning attacks against US interests in the Middle East.

He said New Zealand's current travel advice for Saudi Arabia warned of the need for a high level of vigilance and security awareness, and the need to avoid crowded or landmark places and places where westerners gathered.

In light of today's events, New Zealander are being advised to defer non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia.

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