British man injured in Saudi Arabia bomb blast

RIYADH, Reuters

A Briton was severely injured late on Friday by a bomb explosion in Saudi Arabia, the third such attack on the British community there in less than a month, officials said on Saturday.

The man, David Brown from Scotland, was injured in the eastern town of al-Khobar when a small parcel placed near the windscreen of his car exploded as he tried to remove it, his employers Coca-Cola International said.

Brown was being transferred to the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in the capital Riyadh for treatment, a staff member told Reuters.

“Once he arrives his care will be transferred to the same eye surgeon who treated him in Dammam — near Khobar. There will be many doctors attending,” he added.

Bashar al-Qadi, Coca-Cola International’s public affairs manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “His condition is not life threatening but he has sustained burns on his face and other parts of his body.”

“We are concerned about David’s condition at this stage, we are not speculating about the motives,” Qadi said from his office in Bahrain.

He said Brown was in his mid 30s and had worked in Coca-Cola’s customer services department in Saudi Arabia for more than two years.

The official Saudi Press Agency said Brown had spotted the device, which looked like a juice carton, next to his windscreen. It said he had stopped to remove the carton, which then exploded in his right hand.

It said Brown’s wife, who was with him at the time, was not hurt.

A Saudi source close to the investigation said it was not yet clear if the attack was related to two previous car bombings in the kingdom in which one Briton was killed and four injured.

“Until now, there are no indications of any link between the attacks,” he said. “We are checking to see if Brown had any disputes or problems with anyone.”

Saudi Arabia says it has detained several suspects in connection with the two previous attacks. One of them, American Michael Sedlak, has been held in connection with the first bomb.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, which Saudi authorities have said may have had personal motives.

In London, British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain declined to speculate on why Britons had been targeted.

“British nationals generally have a very happy co existence with local people. Their presence is valued,” he told BBC Radio.

“We have had a British police team out there investigating the situation with the Saudi authorities…They —the Saudis — have been very quick to get onto this problem. They have cooperated fully with us and yes, we are satisfied they are just as concerned as we are.”

The attacks have heightened concerns that Westerners in the Middle East may have become targets of rising anti Western sentiment fuelled by the killing of scores of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in clashes during recent weeks.