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Al Qaeda tie probed in Qatar blast

DOHA, Qatar -- Investigators hunted for clues yesterday indicating possible Al Qaeda involvement in the suicide bomb attack by an Egyptian on a Qatar theater, the first such attack in the US-allied Gulf Arab state.

The man rammed a car packed with explosives into the theater Saturday near a British school in the capital, Doha, officials and witnesses said. A Qatar Interior Ministry official said a British man was killed and 16 people were injured, mostly Arabs and Asians.

Oil-producing Qatar was the command center of the US-led forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the sprawling Saliya base on the outskirts of Doha houses 2,000 US troops.

Until Saturday, the country had been spared militant violence.

An Interior Ministry statement on state media identified the attacker as Omar Ahmad Abdullah Ali, who also owned the vehicle. Egypt's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Army of the Levant said one of its ''lions" carried out the attack, adding that it would issue a full statement later. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified yesterday.

The attack occurred two days after the suspected leader of the Al Qaeda wing in Saudi Arabia urged militants in Qatar and other Gulf Arab states to wage holy war against ''crusaders" in the region.

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