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23/09/02 . by unknown . South African Press Association . Saudi Arabia  
McDonald's set on fire  
Riyadh - A man armed with a pistol walked into a McDonald's restaurant near a US air base in Saudi Arabia and set it on fire with petrol, the interior minister said in remarks published on Thursday.  

Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the restaurant was gutted following the attack on Wednesday morning in Kharj province, which houses the huge Prince Sultan air base.

The gunman threatened an Asian employee before dousing parts of the restaurant with petrol and torching it, he said. Police launched a hunt for the man in the area south-east of the capital Riyadh.

Prince Nayef said the suspect would be caught, put on trial and given a "deterrent sentence", and recalled that even if McDonald's is an American chain, the franchise is owned by a Saudi.

"It's an attack against the property of a Muslim, which constitutes an unacceptable act that we will fight using all possible means," the minister said.

The restaurant owner will be "compensated for all the losses suffered and encouraged to reopen the restaurant rapidly".

Arab and Muslim anger has been mounting at perceived US bias toward Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians as well as at a massive US military presence in the Gulf, including the latest showdown with Iraq.

US fast food chains are among the a broad range of companies in Arab countries that have suffered lost sales during a two-year campaign to boycott US brandnames.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers of the planes used in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US were Saudis. - Sapa-AFP

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