Saudi Arabia Arrests Two Alleged Terror Cells

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Saudi police carried out raids on two alleged terror cells, officials said Wednesday. The raids raised security concerns as thousands of visitors continue arriving in the kingdom in advance of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Security forces surrounded the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of Mounsiya on Tuesday night after receiving tips about suspicious behavior by two men living in the area. The suspects were identified as Saudi brothers Ahmed Saeed Jaber al-Zahrani, 21, and Mohammed Saeed Jaber al-Zahrani, 19. They fired guns and threw grenades as authorities evacuated nearby homes and confiscated a large sum of cash, guns and computer equipment from the home.

In a simultaneous raid in the central Saudi village of Dhurma, another group of terror suspects escaped police and was still being pursued on Wednesday, the ministry said. An unknown number of men fled the scene in a pickup truck with Omani license plates, after exchanging fire with police. A workshop for explosive-making was at the scene, the ministry said, and an explosive belt dismantled by police.

The raids are the latest in an ongoing crackdown by Saudi Arabia against homegrown extremists in the kingdom, after the Sunni extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a recent series of bombings at Shiite mosques across the eastern part of the country, including one at the beginning of August.

The jihadist group is known to be actively working to recruit young Saudi operatives who can carry out attacks on their home soil.