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Jeddah Armed group condemned for civilian killings

Saudi Arabia: Amnesty International condemns the killing of civilians by armed group in Jeddah

Amnesty International unreservedly condemns the killings and hostage taking carried out by an armed group following its attack on the US Consulate in Jeddah on 6 December 2004.

According to press reports at least five civilians were killed by the armed group. A number of other civilians were said to have been injured after they were taken hostages and used as a human shield by members of the group against security forces. The five who were killed were reportedly expatriate workers from Sudan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan and Yemen. Deliberate killing of civilians and killing of hostages are serious crimes under international law. Amnesty International calls for the perpetrators of these crimes to be brought to justice in accordance with international standards.

The cycle of political violence in Saudi Arabia has intensified since May 2003 with increased lethal attacks by armed groups. The government pursuit of the so called "war on terror" with disturbing disregard for the rule of law and international human rights standards have also resulted in multiple human rights violations. A number of bombings, including suicide bombings, as well as individually targeted killings of mainly civilian westerners, have been carried out by armed groups or individual gunmen. Government forces have been involved in house raids and street chases of suspected armed groups and individuals, often with fatal consequences. Scores of civilians are reported to have been killed since May 2003, but the exact number and circumstances surrounding the killings are not known to Amnesty International due to government policy and practice of secrecy.

Amnesty International reiterates its call to armed groups in Saudi Arabia as well as the government to uphold international law and standards which prohibit the targeting of civilians, hostage taking and extrajudicial killings.

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