Saudi Arabia: Suicide Bomber Strikes Shia Mosque During Prayer

A suicide bomber detonated explosives during Friday prayers at a Shiite mosque in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The explosion took place at the Imam Ali mosque in Al-Qadeeh village in the Qatif region. According to local media reports, at least 10 people have died and dozens were seriously injured. Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province is home to the kingdom’s Shiite minority.

Saudi interior ministry opens investigation

Interior Ministry officials said that they had received reports about the major explosion in a mosque. No motive was given for the attack. One witness told Reuters on the phone from the scene that there were at least 30 casualties in the mosque where more than 150 people were praying. “We were doing the first part of the prayers when we heard the blast,” Kamal Jaafar Hassan, one of the worshipers, told Reuters.

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Confirming an explosion at a mosque in Qatif, the Saudi Arabia state news agency said more details would be provided later. No individual or organization has claimed responsibility for the attack. Photos posted on social media showed blood-soaked victims being taken away on stretchers to nearby hospitals. TV pictures on Lebanon’s Hezbollah al-Manar network showed shattered glass next to the pillars inside the Imam Ali mosque.

The Interior Ministry said an investigation has been opened. An activist told local media that Qatif hospital had issued an urgent call seeking blood donations following the attack. The hospital has also called in off-duty staff to handle the high number of casualties.

Sectarian attacks in Saudi Arabia

The suicide bombing has raised serious concerns about sectarian attacks in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. A large number of the kingdom’s Shia population is based in the Eastern Province. They have occasionally protested there for greater rights. In November, an attack on a mosque in the Eastern Province killed eight people.

The attack comes as Saudi Arabia-led coalition has launched air strikes against Shia rebels in Yemen. Riyadh has also been threatened by the Islamic State.