The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group said in an online statement that “the soldiers of the Caliphate” were behind the attack by a suicide bomber “who detonated an explosives belt” in the mosque in the Shiite-majority city of Qatif. It identified the bomber as Abu Amer al-Najdi, and published a picture of him.
Dawn A suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest during Friday weekly prayers at a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing 20 people and wounding several others, a hospital official said. The official reached by telephone said more than 50 other people were wounded, including some who are in serious condition.
The kingdom’s Eastern Province has been hit by previous attempts by extremists to foment sectarian tensions with its large Shia community, including a deadly shooting in November.
The interior ministry said a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the mosque in Shia-majority Qatif, SPA news agency reported. “An individual detonated a bomb he was wearing under his clothes during Friday prayers at Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque in Kudeih in Qatif province,” the ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Qatif hospital issued an urgent call for blood donations after the attack and called in off-duty staff to cope with the high number of casualties, the activist said.
Naseema Assada, a resident of Qatif, said worshippers were celebrating the birth of revered Imam Hussein when the blast occurred. “The people are very angry,” she said, adding that they tried to stop police from entering the Kudeih area.
Residents had feared such an attack was coming, she said, because the government was failing to curb hate speech on social media against the Shia community.
“We don’t want a repeat of what is happening in Syria or Iraq here. This is our country and we love it. “The mufti of Saudi Arabia, the highest-ranking Sunni cleric, denounced the attack in a statement broadcast on state television. “It is a criminal act aimed at dividing the sons of the nation… and at sowing trouble in our country,” he said.