January 20, 2010 / 4:55 PM / 10 years ago

Saudi Kingdom Tower evacuated after bomb hoax

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi authorities ordered the evacuation of Kingdom Tower, a landmark in the capital Riyadh, as a precaution on Wednesday after a bomb threat which turned out to be a hoax, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

“We confirm that this was a hoax ... The building and sites immediately close to it are being evacuated as a precautionary measure,” Mansour al-Turki, Interior Ministry spokesman for security affairs, told Reuters.

“An unknown person called an employee at Samba (Financial Group) bank’s offices in the tower to say a bomb was placed in his car” he added.

Bomb threats are rare in Saudi Arabia.

Turki said earlier the anonymous caller told a Samba employee that the bomb was placed in a car in the parking lot of the bank’s main headquarters in Riyadh.

“Two Samba employees called (the police) about this matter and gave conflicting information,” Turki said.

Majid al-Seif, a Samba spokesman, declined to comment.

Islamist militants launched a violent campaign to destabilise the U.S.-allied monarchy in 2003. The violence has subsided since 2006 after nearly 200 people were killed, including foreign residents, security forces and militants.

Reporting by Souhail Karam; Editing by Jon Boyle

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