- Updated March 6, 2012, 7:06 p.m. ET
By TOM WRIGHT
A Saudi diplomat was shot dead in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, Tuesday, the second Saudi envoy to be killed on foreign soil in a year.
Bangladesh police say Khalaf al-Ali, 45 years old, had served two years at the Saudi Embassy as head of citizens' affairs, a role that typically involves liaising with Saudi students studying overseas.
It followed a May incident in which a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan, was killed by two armed men, in an attack officials believed was carried out by Shiite sectarian groups angered by Saudi Arabia sending troops to Bahrain. No one was arrested in connection with the attack. Karachi police say that 25 days before that attack they arrested one Pakistani man from a Shiite militant group who worked as a security officer at the Saudi consulate.
Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni monarchy but has a Shiite-majority population. Saudi Arabia viewed last year's popular protests as part of a proxy struggle for regional hegemony between its Sunni leadership and Shiite Iran. Bahraini Shiite protesters deny receiving aid from Iran.
The U.S. in October accused Iranian government agents of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and used the alleged plot to make a case for tightening financial sanctions on Tehran.
Also in October, relations between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh were strained after Saudi authorities beheaded eight Bangladeshi workers convicted of robbing and killing an Egyptian man.
Israel claims Iran-backed operatives were behind a blast last month targeting an Israeli diplomat in Delhi. Tel Aviv also blamed Iran for botched terrorism plots in Bangkok and Tbilisi, Georgia, in February.
Iran has denied links to any of the killings.
Bangladeshi police said Mr. Ali had gone out jogging at 11 p.m. Monday in the posh Gulshan area, where he lived and where many embassies are located. At around 1 a.m., as he approached his house, Mr. Ali was hit by a single shot to his chest, police said. Security guards in the area alerted police, who took Mr. Ali to the hospital, where he died around 5 a.m.
Police say so far they haven't identified any witnesses but are treating the incident as a murder.
The Saudi foreign ministry confirmed the death of Mr. Ali in a statement. The ministry said it had asked Bangladesh for enhanced security for Saudis working in the embassy in Dhaka and other missions in the country.
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