Friday 15 November 2019

Massacre of Saudi police at prayer

Damage inside a mosque used by members of a local security force is pictured in Abha, southwest Saudi Arabia.
Damage inside a mosque used by members of a local security force is pictured in Abha, southwest Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah Al-Shihri in Riyadh

A SUICIDE bomber has struck a mosque in southwestern Saudi Arabia that is used by the Interior Ministry's special forces, killing at least 15 people.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in the city of Abha, which is close to Saudi Arabia's southern border with war-torn Yemen, but the bombing had all the hallmarks of militant groups such as al-Qa'ida or Islamic State.

An Interior Ministry statement said 15 were killed and that 12 of those who died were members of the security forces.

A Saudi Interior Ministry official said the bomb targeted police trainees as they were in the middle of prayer.

State TV carried images in the aftermath of the attack, which showed blood splattered on the walls and ceiling of the mosque, alongside debris.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But blame is likely to fall on Islamic State, whose local affiliate has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in recent months, including various deadly shootings and smaller attacks against police at checkpoints in the capital Riyadh.

Yesterday's attack was the deadliest against Saudi security forces since IS attacks first appeared in the kingdom last year.

Saudi authorities last month announced the arrest of more than 400 suspects in an anti-terrorism sweep.

They said they had thwarted other IS attacks being plotted in the oil-rich kingdom, including a suicide bomb plot targeting a large mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia that can hold 3,000 worshippers and attempts to attack a number of other mosques, diplomatic missions and security bodies.

Saudi Arabia is also leading a coalition targeting Iran-allied Shiite rebels in neighboring Yemen, not far from Abha. The rebels have carried out a number of cross-border attacks against military targets.

Irish Independent

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