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Attack On Saudi Arabian Border Raises ISIS Concerns

Saudi Arabia's tense border situation with Iraq is in the spotlight after an attack killed two border guards, including a high-ranking officer.

By Sebastian Martinez | January 5, 2015

Two Saudi Arabian border guards are dead and another wounded after an attack on the country's border with Iraq. 

Two assailants carried out the attack, opening fire on an outpost in the early hours on Monday. The Saudi forces managed to kill one of the assailants before the other detonated an explosive vest he was wearing. (Video via Al Arabiya

According to Al Arabiya, one of the men killed in the attack was a key figure in the border guard. General Oudah al-Belawi was reportedly in charge of operations on Saudi Arabia's northern border. 

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Attacks like this are rare, and it's still not clear who carried it out, though many outlets have been quick to note Saudi Arabia is part of the coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (Video via Al Jazeera)

Operating under the assumption that the assailants were from ISIS, a France 24 analyst says the high-ranking nature of the officers killed — the other guard member was a colonel — could tell us a lot about the group's intel.

Wassim Nasr explained"These two officers weren't there randomly, if I may say so. It means the jihadis had real intelligence information because as we know, high-ranking officers like this don't spend their time on the border." 

It's a border Saudi Arabia has tried to reinforce since this summer when it deployed some 30,000 soldiers to border posts and unveiled a five-layered fence, complete with cameras and watchtowers stretching more than 500 miles along the border. (Video via CBS)

The attack comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is planning to reopen its embassy in Baghdad, more than 20 years after closing it in response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. (Video via CCTV)

A writer for Al Jazeera argues that's part of thawing relations between the two countries. In the past, Sunni-led Saudi Arabia has been cautious about engaging with Iraq's Shia-led government, fearing "renewed unrest among its Shia population in its oil-rich Eastern province."

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly warned Saudi leaders in an audio recording last month that the country would be targeted.

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