September 16, 2015 / 2:03 PM / 2 years ago

Saudi police seize suspected militants with guns and suicide vest

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi police captured two suspected militants, along with several weapons and an explosive vest, in two raids around the capital Riyadh late on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sunni Muslim militants sympathetic to the Islamic State group have staged a series of attacks in the conservative Islamic kingdom this year, including suicide bombings in mosques used by Shi‘ites and security forces, and shootings of police.

Police evacuated neighboring houses and cordoned off a building in Riyadh’s al-Mounsiya district before a firefight with suspects Saeed al-Zahrani, 21, and Mohammed al-Zahrani, 19, who were both arrested. They were found with a large amount of money, guns, ammunition and a device for forging identity cards.

The second raid was on a house in al-Dharma, just west of Riyadh, where suspects opened fire on police and tried to flee in a car before it was damaged and they escaped on foot, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on state media.

An explosive vest was discovered inside the car, which had fake Omani license plates, and a bomb-making factory was found inside the building, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia has detained hundreds of people suspected of links to Islamic State over the past year, but officials say the group does not have a complex organization in the kingdom but relies on isolated cells and individual militants to plan and carry out their own attacks.

A year ago, Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, called on supporters inside Saudi Arabia not to travel to Islamic State’s territory in Syria and Iraq but to stay at home and carry out attacks there instead.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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