RIYADH: Saudi police shot dead a would-be suicide bomber targeting a mosque in the Shiite-dominated district of Qatif, the interior ministry said yesterday. It was one of two attacks disrupted in the kingdom’s Eastern Province since early August, when a Syrian and a Saudi were arrested on their way to bomb a restaurant, the ministry said. Yesterday’s attempted attack – the latest targeting the kingdom’s minority Shiites – happened around sunset prayers, the ministry said in a statement.
Security officers “managed to foil a terrorist operation targeting worshippers” at Mustafa Mosque in Qatif, the ministry said. When suspicious officers questioned the man, he tried to detonate a bomb in a sports bag on his back, leading the police to open fire. The suspect died on the way to hospital. Officers found four kilograms of explosives in his bag. “A search revealed a Pakistani ID which is still being confirmed,” the ministry said.
The earlier case happened on Aug 5 when police stopped a suspicious vehicle in Dammam, adjacent to Qatif. Two suspects tried to flee but were detained. Officers found guns and a suicide belt with more than seven kilograms of explosives, the ministry said in a separate statement. “They were trained by Daesh elements abroad to target, in a suicide operation, Al-Saif Restaurant and Cafe in Tarot” neighboring Qatif, the ministry said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group.
Initial investigation identified the suspects as Abdullah Al-Ghunaimi, 27, of Saudi Arabia, and Hussein Mohammed Ali, 24, of Syria. “They were to implement the operation at 11:00 pm the same day,” the statement said. “Investigations so far reveal that two other Syrians are involved and have been arrested.”
On July 4, a Pakistani resident of the kingdom blew himself up near the United States consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, wounding two policemen. It was one of three separate attacks throughout the kingdom that day. One occurred at a Shiite mosque in Qatif, leaving the body parts of three people. Near Islam’s second holiest site, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, four people died in another suicide blast. No group claimed responsibility but CIA director John Brennan said the three bombings bore the “hallmark” of the IS group of Sunni extremists.
Since late 2014 IS has claimed a series of bombings and shootings targeting Shiites in the Sunni-majority kingdom, as well as the security forces. Dozens of victims were killed, largely in Eastern Province, home to most of the country’s Shiites. Authorities arrested 19 people, including 12 Pakistani nationals, after the July attacks. In another incident this month, a Yemeni accused of running over and stabbing a policeman in the southwestern region of Asir had pledged allegiance to IS, the interior ministry said. – AFP