Suicide bomb hits Saudi mosque, 15 killed
LONDON - A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the south-western city Saudi Arabian city of Abha on August 6th, killing at least 15 people, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.
The attack, targeting a mosque used by members of the kingdom’s security forces, is the third suicide bombing of a mosque in Saudi Arabia since May.
The mosque in Abha was part of the local headquarters of a state security unit called the Special Emergency Force, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Of those killed, 12 were members of the force and three were workers in the compound. They were praying when the bomber struck, he said. Nine others were wounded.
The spokesman said “body parts found at the scene” indicated the use of an explosive vest.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the world’s top oil producer has been on alert for attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS), which has been blamed for killing policemen and members of Saudi Arabia’s minority Shia community.
Saudi Arabia is also the leading member an Arab coalition targeting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen, not far from Abha. Houthi rebels have carried out a number of cross-border attacks against military targets.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the two previous suicide attacks on Shia mosques in eastern Saudi Arabia. An attack on the Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque in Qatif on May 22nd killed 21 people and another on the Imam Hussein mosque in Dammam a week later left four people dead.
A much higher toll was avoided in the second blast because two civilian guards prevented the bomber from entering the mosque.
In November 2014, a gunman opened fire at a mosque in the eastern Saudi village of al-Ahsa, killing eight.
Saudi authorities warned ISIS was trying to incite sectarian conflict and have arrested 431 people as part of a major crackdown on ISIS-linked cells. It is not known whether the latest attack, this time targeting police, was in response to the crackdown.
An ISIS-affiliated group calling itself Najd Province, named after the region around Riyadh, claimed those attacks as well as a suicide bombing that killed 26 people at a Shia mosque in Kuwait in June.