Armed men threw grenades at the gate of the heavily guarded American consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, and then stormed into the building, prompting a gunbattle that left 12 people dead and several wounded before the three-hour long standoff was brought under control by Saudi security forces.
A Saudi health official said several people, wounded in the incident, were taken to a local hospital, but none were Americans. Four Saudi national guards, five staff and three attackers were reported dead. Two other gunmen were injured and arrested.
The attackers took 18 local staff hostage, Saudi security sources were quoted as saying by news agencies, but a statement issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry did not mention hostages.Security around the consulate has been extremely tight since last year's series of bombing attacks against targets housing foreign citizens.