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Saudis seize dozens of militants said linked to al Qaeda

By Ammar Benaziz and Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
updated 2:42 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • With the exception of a few, most seized are Saudis
  • Police are still hunting for 44 others allegedly tied to terror cell
  • This was separate from raids staged in Yemen

(CNN) -- Authorities in Saudi Arabia targeting al Qaeda-linked militants have embarked on a large counterterror operation across the country, authorities said Tuesday.

Security forces arrested 62 members of a terror cell linked to al Qaeda in Yemen and Syria, Saudi state media reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

Police still sought 44 others suspected of involvement with the terror cell, the Saudi Press Agency said. The terror group planned to target installations inside the kingdom with the support of al Qaeda, state-run TV reported.

The arrests were made across the country over the past two months, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Mansour Al-Turki told CNN.

"This was a very significant counterterror operation and sweep that showcases quite clearly how committed the Saudi government is to combating al Qaeda within its borders and beyond," one senior-level Saudi government official told CNN. "This operation is not over yet."

This source, not authorized to speak to the media, requested anonymity.

"One of the most important aspects of this was focusing on and disrupting support these terrorist cells in the kingdom were giving to al Qaeda-affiliated fighters and cells in Yemen and in Syria," the official said. "As announced, this operation is not over yet -- the Interior Ministry is still on the hunt for dozens of others."

With the exception of a Palestinian, a Yemeni and a Pakistani, those seized were Saudis, Al-Turki said.

The raids were not done in conjunction with the counterterror operations staged in Yemen over the past two weeks.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report

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