A “terrorist” bomb targeting a mosque used by Saudi police killed at least 17 people Thursday in the southern city of Abha, state television El-Ikhbariya reported. Nine others were wounded. Of them, three were in critical condition. The Saudi Interior Ministry said relevant security agencies had started investigating the attack. Officials have recovered the remnants of the suicide vests in the mosque.
The mosque belongs to the special emergency forces
The explosion took place as worshipers were praying at a mosque. Local media described it as a “terrorist attack.” Abha is located near the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border. State television El-Ikhbariya said the mosque belongs to the Interior Ministry’s emergency services’ post. Reuters reports that all those killed were members of the Special Emergency Force.
Thursday’s attack comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has detained about 400 alleged supporters of the Islamic State from across the kingdom. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least 17 special forces, but the blame is likely to fall on the dreaded Islamic State.
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Last month, Saudi officials claimed that they had foiled the Islamic State’s plot to attack seven mosques, diplomatic missions, and security forces. While a Saudi-led coalition has attacked Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Yemenis are unlikely to have carried out Thursday’s attack in Abha. After about four months of conflict with Riyadh, Houthis have run out of money they badly need to
Earlier in May, a suicide bomber had detonated explosives at a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers in Al-Qadeeh village in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia that killed 22 people. A week later, another Shia mosque was targeted in an attack that claimed four lives. Islamic State had claimed responsibility for that attack. Until now, Shiite worship places have been the most vulnerable target of suicide attacks. But the latest attack appears to be directed at Saudi authorities.