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American shot dead in Saudi Arabia

Second fatal attack on Westerners in three days

Saudi Arabia

(CNN) -- An American working for a company that trains Saudi Arabian security forces was shot to death Tuesday in Riyadh in the second fatal attack on Westerners in three days, U.S. diplomats and Saudi police said.

The killing took place a day after Islamic militants claiming to be linked to al Qaeda warned that they planned more attacks on expatriates working in the kingdom.

The victim worked for the Vinnell Arabia Corp., which trains and equips the Saudi National Guard, company spokesman Kevin O'Melia said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Robert Keith said the dead man was an American citizen, but his identity was withheld until relatives could be notified.

Saudi police said the man was found dead in his home in the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of Khaleej. The district contains several residential compounds for Westerners in the Saudi capital.

Vinnell employees have been a target of earlier attacks. Ten employees died in May 2003 when suicide car bombings struck several expatriate residential compounds in Riyadh.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department repeated its advice strongly urging Americans to leave Saudi Arabia.

But spokesman Adam Ereli said there was no immediate evidence to link Tuesday's killing to a campaign by Islamic militants against the Saudi monarchy and Westerners in the kingdom.

"Westerners are in their sights, but I think Saudis understand that they, too, as a system, are in the sights of terrorists who want to overthrow the order there," Ereli said.

Tuesday's shooting was not far from the scene of Sunday's killing of a BBC cameraman, Simon Cumbers, 36. Cumbers was gunned down in a drive-by shooting that also wounded BBC correspondent Frank Gardner, 42, a network expert on al Qaeda.

Earlier attacks -- including a hostage standoff in late May that ended with 22 captives dead -- have been blamed on Islamic militants battling the Saudi government.

Vinnell Arabia is a subsidiary of the Virginia-based Vinnell Corp., a unit of defense giant Northrop Grumman.

The firm has been helping to train the Saudi National Guard, a 75,000-strong mechanized infantry force that reports to Crown Prince Abdullah, since 1975.

Abdullah's chief foreign policy adviser, Adel al-Jubeir, said the militants are "moving from more dramatic acts to more desperate acts."

"When somebody shoots an individual on the street, that's desperation," al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington after a meeting at the State Department.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, condemned the killing in a statement.

"The terrorists that are responsible for such inhuman acts are trying to undermine the Saudi state, destabilize our economy and terrorize our friends who have come to live, work and invest in the kingdom," bin Sultan said.

A statement by a group claiming to be al Qaeda's affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula warned of more attacks in posts on two Islamic Web sites Monday.

The message told Muslims not to spend time with Westerners, to avoid being caught up in any attack, and to avoid "using all shapes and forms of transportation used by them."

"All compounds, bases and means of transport, especially Western and American airlines, will be the direct target for our coming operations in the near future," the statement said. (Full story)

CNN's Caroline Faraj and Hayat Mongodin contributed to this report.

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