"We will continue the combat until the end and hope that end will come very soon," Nayef was quoted Thursday as saying after inspecting the city of Ras in the northern province of al-Qassim, where clashes have been going on for several days between security forces and Muslim gunmen believed to belong to the al-Qaida network.
Nayef said 15 gunmen had been killed in the fighting, while two were wounded and two others turned themselves in. Only two of the dead had been identified.
"We cannot say that this is the end of the terrorists ... We might confront them in any other place in the kingdom as long as there are people inciting terrorism," Nayef said.
The minister did not disclose the names of the identified dead gunmen, but security sources said earlier that Saud al-Oteibi, a Saudi, and Abdel Karim Majati, a Moroccan, were among the dead. Both figure on an official list of 26 most wanted terrorists released by Saudi Arabia in December 2003.