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At Least 23 Killed in Riyadh Fuel Truck Blast

Source: Ahram Online 11/1/2012, Location: Middle East

At least 23 people were killed when a fuel truck crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital Riyadh, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and set fire to nearby vehicles.

State-owned Ekhbariya television news channel reported on that the death toll had risen to 23 and emergency workers were still searching the collapsed building for more victims or survivors. Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said 135 people were injured, mostly men and including some foreigners.

Although the incident took place near the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Prince Nayef Arab University for Security Studies, officials speaking on state television said it was an accident.

Neither the guards' complex nor the security university appeared to be damaged in the blast, which flattened a showroom for tractors, bulldozers and other industrial vehicles as well as damaging a busy flyover.

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is seen as a prime target for the al Qaeda branch based in neighbouring Yemen but the last successful attack inside the conservative Islamic kingdom was in 2006. Riyadh has cracked down on Islamist militants over the past decade, detaining thousands of suspects.

The civil defence department said a gas tanker had hit the Khureis Road flyover in eastern Riyadh, causing a gas leak and an explosion in the Zahid Tractor company's showroom and warehouse, according to the state news agency SPA.

"The truck driver was surprised by a road accident on its route, causing it to crash into one of the pillars of the bridge," spokesman Captain Mohamed Hubail Hammadi said.

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