Reuters.com

 

Car Bomb at Qatar Theatre Kills Briton, Wounds 12

Sat Mar 19, 2005 06:28 PM ET

 

By Odai Sirri

DOHA (Reuters) - A car bomb killed one Briton and wounded at least 12 people on Saturday at a theater frequented by Westerners in Qatar, the command center for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which began exactly two years ago.

"The explosion was caused by a rigged car. One person was killed and 12 were wounded, of whom 10 have left hospital," the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried on the state news agency QNA.

The British Foreign Office in London said the dead person was a Briton, and added that the nationality and sex of the wounded were not known.

Qatari sources said the attack in the capital Doha was carried out by a suicide bomber -- the first attack of its kind in oil-producing Qatar, which hosts the U.S. military's Central Command.

Supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden have staged attacks in neighboring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but Qatar prides itself on its security and has not experienced suicide bomb attacks before.

A member of the investigating team told Reuters a medium-sized vehicle had slammed into the one-storey building housing the theater, near a British school in Doha.

Brigadier General Ahmad al-Hayki of the Interior Ministry told Qatar-based Al Jazeera television the blast had struck the theater cafeteria, and that most of the wounded were Qataris, other Arabs and Asians.

Asked if the blast had any links to militant attacks in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Hayki said: "We do not want to precede events. We have started gathering evidence."

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been high in the region over the Iraq war and perceived U.S. support for Israel against the Palestinians.

SHAKESPEARE PLAY

An Al Jazeera correspondent on the scene said about 100 people had been inside the Doha Players theater, where William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" had been showing.

A Reuters witness said the one-storey theater had been badly damaged and rescue teams were clearing the rubble. White plumes of smoke rose from the building in central Doha.

Police sealed off the Fareek Klaib district as investigators and sniffer dogs fanned out across the area.

Witnesses said the force of the blast shattered windows of houses and cars in the residential area.

A security guard at the nearby British school told Reuters the blast shattered several windows in the school, which was closed at the time, and that a ceiling collapsed in an auditorium.

He said about 40 teachers who live in the school compound were evacuated but that no one was hurt there. The Foreign Office spokesman said the explosion was "opposite the Doha English Speaking School."

Last year, a car bomb in Doha killed exiled Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. A Qatar court sentenced two Russian spies to life imprisonment for the assassination but they were later handed over to Moscow at Russia's request.

foreign office spokesman in london said one British national has been killed and several other people injured -- nationality and sex so far unknown.

Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.