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Saudi journalist: Bombings were 'horrific'

Raid Qusti, Riyadh bureau chief for the Arab News daily newspaper
Raid Qusti, Riyadh bureau chief for the Arab News daily newspaper

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- A day after the United States warned about the threat of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, unknown attackers -- who the Saudis say were al Qaeda members -- stormed into a residential complex in Riyadh not far from the U.S. Embassy and set off three powerful explosions that have left a large number of casualties.

CNN International's Colleen McEdwards spoke with Raid Qusti, Riyadh bureau chief for the Arab News daily newspaper, about the blasts that rocked the Saudi capital.

McEDWARDS: Raid, what's the latest from where you are?

QUSTI: The latest is that it has been confirmed that there was a gunbattle. Terrorists opened fire on security guards outside of the compound, and then they broke their way inside the compound and set up explosives that eventually ripped through several buildings.

McEDWARDS: Sorry Raid, I just missed a little bit of what you said. Is it clear how they broke into the compound?

QUSTI: Preliminary reports are telling us that they engaged in a gunbattle after they entered with their vehicles.

McEDWARDS: Any indication of how many cars?

QUSTI: No, we're still receiving information as we speak now.

McEDWARDS: The Saudi Health Ministry has reported one person killed, 14 wounded. Are you hearing anything more current on the official toll of casualties or people who have been killed?

QUSTI: The official toll so far regarding the people who have been injured is 50. Our man is at one of the hospitals where people are being rushed in.

McEDWARDS: Can you just describe what the scene was like when you saw it and what witnesses told you?

QUSTI: If I were to put it in one word it would be "horrific:" The idea that all of this is happening in the capital, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. As you might know, the Ramadan is the sacred holy month [during which] Muslims fast, and they ask God for forgiveness. Riyadh, as any other city in the kingdom, is 100 percent Muslim. The time when the blasts took place was twelve o'clock midnight. People were having their full meal ... Many, many people I spoke to were outraged hearing that innocent children might have been [victims]. If this sign says anything, it is a clear sign that [terrorists] are no longer differentiating between Muslims and non-Muslims. They want clearly to inflict fear in the lives of people here.

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