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BBC crew gunned down in Saudi

Saudi Arabia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- A freelance cameraman working for the British Broadcasting Corporation has been killed and a correspondent for the network wounded in a drive-by shooting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the network says.

The slain cameraman was identified by the BBC as Simon Cumbers, 36.

Correspondent Frank Gardner, 42, described by the BBC as a "leading expert on al Qaeda," was being treated at a Riyadh hospital, the network said.

"Our thoughts are with the families of Simon and Frank tonight," said Richard Sambrook, the BBC's director of news, in a statement posted on its Web site. "We are in touch with them and offering them all the support that we can."

Chris Cramer, president of the International News Safety Institute and managing director of CNN International, said: "Today's deliberate attack on yet more colleagues proves that our profession is in terrible danger from those who prefer to see us dead or injured.

"The profession needs to proceed with the utmost caution and the maximum sharing of information in hostile areas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the BBC and the families of those who were targeted."

The journalists, who traveled to Saudi Arabia last week, were walking in a neighborhood on the south side of Riyadh on Sunday when men in a passing car opened fire on them, a senior official at the Saudi Interior Ministry told CNN.

The assailants escaped, a Western diplomat said.

The official Saudi Press Agency, quoting Riyadh's police chief, blamed the attack on "unknown gunmen" and said an investigation was under way.

But the Interior Ministry official blamed Islamic militants who have carried out a series of attacks on attacks on Western citizens in the kingdom in the past year.

Sunday's shooting came a week after 22 people died in the Saudi oil city of Khobar in a hostage standoff that ended with Saudi troops storming the residential compound where militants had taken more than 200 people hostage.

Three of the hostage-takers were allowed to escape after they threatened to kill more of their captives. Editor Caroline Faraj contributed to this report.

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