RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Security officers fought an intense gun battle with suspected Al Qaeda militants yesterday, killing five people sought in last week's brazen attempt to blow up a huge oil-processing complex with car bombs.
A sixth suspect was arrested uninjured during a simultaneous predawn raid in the same part of the capital, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
''We think all the men involved had something to do with the Abqaiq attempt," the ministry's chief spokesman, Lieutenant General Mansour al-Turki, said in Dubai, referring to Friday's failed attack on the world's biggest oil stabilization plant.
The assault in eastern Saudi Arabia was the first ever on the kingdom's vital oil infrastructure and caused oil prices to jump $2 a barrel. Al Qaeda's Saudi branch claimed responsibility in an Internet posting and warned of more suicide attacks on oil facilities.
But after a wave of terror attacks in 2003, Saudi security forces have largely had Al Qaeda on the run, killing or capturing hundreds of militants and causing a big drop-off in the toll of death and destruction from the group's assaults.
Turki said yesterday's dual police raids came after surveillance operations revealed the suspected militants were in the Yarmouk area of Riyadh.
The Interior Ministry said gunfire erupted when officers confronted five militants at an eastern Riyadh rental house, which the statement said was being used for meetings to plan Al Qaeda operations.
''After a fierce exchange of gunfire, security forces were able to control the situation in a short time, killing all five at the scene," the statement said.
The sixth man was captured elsewhere in the neighborhood, the statement said, without specifying where.
Turki said security forces had no casualties.
Militants hoped the attack on the Abqaiq oil-processing facility would deliver a serious blow to Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest producer of oil. The kingdom also is the homeland of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a foe of the Saudi monarchy.
Two suicide bombers died in the attack, which was foiled when security guards fired at their vehicles and caused them to explode outside the gates of the facility, which processes about two-thirds of the Saudi oil that is exported. The two guards died later of wounds.
The Interior Ministry identified the car bombers as Abdullah Abdul-Aziz al-Tweijri and Mohammed Saleh al-Gheith, saying both were on a list of the kingdom's 15 most-wanted terrorists that was issued last June.