Attack in Saudi Arabia – ongoing hostage situation

5 expat housing compounds have been attacked in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. At least 6 people are known to have been killed, among them one Brit and one American. An unknown number of hostages are being held. At least one body has been dragged through the streets. Situation developing. From Dow Jones Newswire:

The attackers also shot dead U.K. national Michael Hamilton, the company’s senior manager for trade and project finance, as he arrived at the office, said western officials and a company executive. British diplomats are en route to Al- Khobar.

The gunmen, dressed in security forces’ uniforms, had also opened fire on a school bus, killing the young son of an Egyptian Apicorp employee, said the company executive.

The western official and other sources said the gunmen – in two vehicles – fled the office and residential complex of Apicorp, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries’ investment arm.

South Rub al-Khali Gas Co., a natural gas exploration joint venture between Royal Dutch/Shell (RD,SC), state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co (SOI.YY) and Total SA (TOT), also has its offices in the Apicorp building. None of the company’s staff were harmed, said Shell spokesman Simon Buerk.

At around 0730hrs, gunmen attacked the nearby Petroleum Center offices, killing three people, sources said. Two Filipinos and a westerner, either a South African or U.S. national, died at the Petroleum Center, said the sources.

It’s unclear whether this attack was carried out by the same assailants who carried out the strike on Apicorp. Shots were also heard outside the Panda Mall, near the Petroleum Center.

Gunmen then holed themselves up in the nearby Oasis residential compound, where they have taken hostages and are surrounded by security forces, said one western official. Another source said the attackers had taken hostage a woman with joint U.S.-Lebanese nationality and her child in the compound’s Sohar high- rise apartment block. The Lebanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia later confirmed that five Lebanese nationals had been released, though an unspecified number of hostages are believed to still be held.

“The incident is still happening, and they’ve taken hostages in the Oasis compound,” said the western official.

Another source said a second group of gunmen had managed to escape using a police car and were now surrounded in Home Store, a household furnishings store in the city.

UPDATE: Saudi security forces seeking to kill or capture the militants stormed the waterfront Oasis complex, where a housing manager said 50 hostages were still being held including Americans, Italians and Arabs.

Some reporting is indicating that the “militants” are checking State IDs for religion.: An employee at the Oasis compound said the militants, wearing military uniforms, had asked residents to show their identity cards to find out their religions.