Thursday 19 January 2017

Muslim leaders call for unity after four killed in attack on Saudi shrine

Josie Ensor

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

Muslim worshippers gather after a suicide bomber detonated a device near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Handout
Muslim worshippers gather after a suicide bomber detonated a device near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Handout

Muslim leaders are calling for Sunnis and Shias to unite against Islamist terrorism after a rare suicide bombing near a mosque in Saudi Arabia, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

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The attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina last night came as worshippers were preparing for a feast marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

People stand by an explosion site in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Courtesy of Noor Punasiya via AP)
People stand by an explosion site in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Courtesy of Noor Punasiya via AP)

Monday's bombing killed four Saudi security troops and wounded five others in a car park outside the sprawling mosque grounds where the Prophet Muhammad is buried, second only to the Grand Mosque in its reverence. The site attracts millions of pilgrims of both sects each year.

Two other suicide attacks in Jeddah and Qatif succeeded in killing only the bombers themselves.

"There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross. Sunnis, Shias will both remain victims unless we stand united as one," Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said.

"Terrorism knows no border or nationality and there is no solution except creating an international and regional unity against this phenomenon," added foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

Saudi Arabia identified the suspect as a Pakistani national who arrived in the country 12 years ago to work as a driver.

He was named as Abdullah Qalzar Khan (34) who lived with his family in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

There were no claims of responsibility, but the Islamic State group (Isil) had urged its supporters to carry out attacks during the holy month and has claimed or been blamed for a wave of Ramadan shootings and bombings including attacks in Orlando, Bangladesh, Istanbul and Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia, which was hit by the three suicide attacks within 24 hours on Monday, is a partner in the US-led coalition fighting Isil in Syria and Iraq and as such is seen as an enemy by the jihadist group.

The latest bombing caused outrage even among Isil supporters on social media, who attempted to distance themselves from the attack on Islam's spiritual home.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are locked in an increasingly tense competition for regional influence, and back opposing sides in regional conflicts, including in Syria and Yemen.

Rivalry

Iran, the leading Shia Muslim power, has been calling for rapprochement with Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, after years of rivalry climaxed in a breakdown of diplomatic relations in January after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran.

Tehran also blamed the kingdom for the deaths of more than 400 Iranians at last year's hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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