Two wanted al-Qaida militants were among 10 extremists killed in clashes with police during a double suicide car bombing in the Saudi capital, officials said yesterday, portraying...

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Two wanted al-Qaida militants were among 10 extremists killed in clashes with police during a double suicide car bombing in the Saudi capital, officials said yesterday, portraying the attack as a plot that was wrecked by the earlier capture of a militant.

The car bombs exploded Wednesday night in the Saudi capital, targeting the Interior Ministry and a recruiting center for the kingdom’s anti-terrorism forces.

But the vehicles were unable to get close to their targets and the blasts killed only the three suicide bombers, said a ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki. Seventeen security officers and several bystanders were wounded. Saudi TV had reported the blast outside the ministry killed a passing limousine driver, but al-Turki said he was only wounded.

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Al-Turki said the plotters had to carry out the bombings earlier than they had intended because a militant was captured after a shootout in Riyadh a day earlier.

“It is for sure that the terrorist operation was executed hastily,” he said. “It seemed to be programmed to be executed at a different time and in a different fashion.”

Ten militants were killed in two gunbattles Wednesday — three of them just before the bombs went off, then seven who were tracked to a Riyadh hideout soon after the blasts, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Among those killed were a top al-Qaida operative in Saudi Arabia, Sultan al-Otaibi, and Bandar bin Abdel Rahman al-Dikheel — both of them Saudis on a list issued last December of most-wanted militants, the ministry said.