Gunman fires at diplomatic car: America shuts Jeddah consulate temporarily
WASHINGTON: The United States temporarily closed its consulate in Jeddah and renewed advice for US citizens to leave Saudi Arabia on Monday after a US diplomatic car came under fire in the Red Sea city, the State Department said.
The consulate was closed to the public for the remainder of Monday “as a precautionary measure” shortly after the late morning shooting incident that injured neither of the two people - a US Marine guard and a local driver - riding in the vehicle which belonged to the consulate and was sporting diplomatic license plates, spokesman Richard Boucher said.
In addition, the consulate issued a notice to US citizens “reiterating earlier warnings to Americans that they should depart the country and urging Americans who remain to exercise a high level of vigilance,” he told reporters.
US diplomats are in close touch with Saudi authorities investigating the incident which occurred just two blocks from the consulate, Boucher added.
In Riyadh, a spokesman for the US embassy in Saudi Arabia told AFP earlier that the vehicle had sustained minor damage and a Saudi interior ministry official said the car had been fired on with a “personal weapon.”
“A car carrying a resident with US citizenship came under fire from a small personal weapon — a gun — as it left a bank in Jeddah,h,” the ministry official was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The incident was the first known attack on a Western target in Saudi Arabia since the August 3 fatal shooting of an Irishman in Riyadh.
The Irishman’s killing, later claimed by the Saudi branch of the Al-Qaeda network, shattered a lull in attacks on Westerners in the kingdom that followed the June 18 killing of the local Al-Qaeda commander. afp