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Saudi officials: Top al Qaeda ideologue killed

Saudi Arabia
Al Qaeda

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- The man believed to be al Qaeda's top ideologue in Saudi Arabia was killed Wednesday in a shootout with Saudi police, Saudi security sources said.

The sources said the man was believed to have spearheaded the effort to build religious justifications for terrorist attacks in the kingdom

The sources did not immediately release the man's name.

A policeman was also killed and six were lightly wounded, and three passers-by were lightly wounded, the sources said.

The incident began Wednesday afternoon when police, following a tip, surrounded a building about four miles (seven kilometers) from central Riyadh in the residential neighborhood of al Quds, the Saudi Press Agency said.

It was not known how many militants were inside the building or whether any civilians were inside.

On June 23, the Saudi government offered terrorists one month to surrender. The move came shortly after U.S. engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr. was kidnapped and beheaded.

Crown Prince Abdullah, speaking on state television, promised that any militant who turned himself in would be safe. (Full story)

"If they are wise and they accept it, then they are saved," he said. "And if they snub it, then God is not going to forbid us from hitting them with our force, which we get from our dependence on God."

Saudi sources said the limited amnesty period is aimed at midlevel and junior al Qaeda supporters, not leaders with blood on their hands.

Othman Al-Omari, No. 19 on Saudi Arabia's list of 26 most-wanted militants, accepted the amnesty offer Monday. Shaban Al Shihri, an Al-Omari business partner, turned himself in Friday. (Full story)

Al Qaeda supporters have waged a yearlong campaign of violence targeting Westerners, government sites and oil workers in the kingdom, prompting some foreigners to flee the country, the world's biggest oil exporter.

CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

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