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U.S. defense contractor a target in Saudi attacks

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Colin Powell tours damage caused by the attacks in Riyadh.
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CNN's Andrea Koppel reports on officials' suspicions about al Qaeda.
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A witness describes gunfire and an explosion at one of the targeted compounds.
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Family members concerned about Americans in Riyadh may contact the U.S. State Department from inside the U.S. at (888) 407-4747

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FAIRFAX, Virginia (CNN) -- One of the compounds in Saudi Arabia attacked by suicide bombers Monday night housed employees of Vinnell Corp., a Fairfax, Virginia-based defense contractor that trains Saudi Arabia's National Guard.

Vinnell spokesman Jay McCaffrey said he could not say how many people were injured in the attack on a residential building in the firm's compound in Riyadh, but he said about 250 Americans live there, including Vinnell employees and their families.

None of the children or spouses were injured in the attack, McCaffrey said.

"There is a lot of devastation in the compound at the moment," he said.

According to State Department officials, cars crashed through gates at two of the compounds before exploding, while a car exploded outside the gate at a third complex.

U.S. and Saudi officials suspect the attacks were the handiwork of al Qaeda, the terror network also responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks. The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia is one of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's grievances against the United States.

In 1995, a car bomb exploded in a parking lot near the headquarters of the U.S. Army agency that works with civilian contractors, including Vinnell, to train and modernize the Saudi National Guard.

That attack killed five Americans and two Indians.

Vinnell's compound is a self-contained, three- by two-block development that includes residences and office buildings, restaurants and retail. "Your typical expatriate compound," McCaffrey said.

Vinnell employs 800 people in Saudi Arabia, including about 250 U.S. citizens who live in the compound. The rest are Saudis and other foreign nationals, McCaffrey said.

Vinnell is a subsidiary of the Northrop Grumman Corp., specializing in facilities operation and maintenance, military training, educational and vocational training, and logistics support in the United States and overseas, according to a Vinnell statement.

The company has trained the Saudi National Guard for more than 20 years, according to its Web site.

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