Over 2,000 Saudi jihadists abroad: ministry

Saudi interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told the daily newspaper Al-Hayat that 2,093 Saudis are in conflict areas abroad (AFP Photo/Hamad Olayan)

Riyadh (AFP) - More than 2,000 Saudis are fighting abroad with jihadist groups, with over 70 percent of them in Syria, the kingdom's interior ministry was reported as saying Monday.

"The number of Saudis proven to be in conflict areas is 2,093," interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told daily newspaper Al-Hayat.

He said that 1,540 of them were in Syria, where jihadists have flocked since the Islamic State group seized control of vast areas in mid-2014.

Another 147 were in Yemen, which is the base of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of the global terror network.

Another 31 were believed to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Turki said.

Only five were believed to be in neighbouring Iraq, where IS also seized significant territory in 2014.

Turki said 73 Saudis had also been detained abroad "on charges related to acts of terrorism."

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