updated 9/15/2004 3:16:24 PM ET 2004-09-15T19:16:24

A British man was shot dead Wednesday in a parking lot outside an eastern Riyadh shopping center, a Saudi Interior Ministry official said.

The victim was shot near the Max discount shopping center in the eastern part of the Saudi capital. A ministry spokesman gave no further details.

Earlier, Saudi-owned TV station Al-Arabiya said the man was shot four times while in the shopping center’s car park.

Police ringed the area looking for the killer while an ambulance removed the victim’s body.

A British diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he heard about the report but could not confirm that a British citizen was killed.

Spate of attacks
There has been a spate of attacks against foreigners in Saudi Arabia by militants bent on hurting the economy of the world’s largest oil producer. That sector, in particular, depends on foreigners.

In May, two Britons were among six Westerners killed by militants who sprayed gunfire inside an oil contractor’s office in Yanbu, 220 miles north of the Red Sea port of Jiddah.

Later that month, a Briton was among 22 people killed during a hostage siege in Khobar, an oil hub 250 miles northeast of Riyadh.

A British Broadcasting Corp. reporter, Frank Gardner, was shot and seriously wounded in Riyadh in June. His Irish colleague was killed in that attack.

On Saturday, an explosion rocked Jiddah near a branch of the Saudi-American bank.

The Gulf kingdom has been hunting al-Qaida-linked militants behind a series of bombings and shootings targeting the U.S.-allied Saudi regime, security authorities and foreign interests.

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