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Suicide Bomber strikes near Muslim Holy Shrine in Saudi Arabia

A suicide blast struck on Monday in Saudi Arabia outside one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, local media reported. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel showed images of fire raging in a parking lot with at least one body nearby.

The explosion occurred in a security forces parking area, Al-Arabiya reported. Two other bombers blew themselves up earlier on Monday on opposite sides of the kingdom, which has previously been targeted by the Islamic State group of Sunni extremists.

In Shiite-dominated Qatif, on the Gulf coast, residents said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque frequented by the minority community. Another suicide bomber detonated his explosives earlier near the US consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, injuring two security officers.

“Suicide bomber for sure. I can see the body torn apart”, said a witness to the attack in the Shiite-populated city of Qatif.  Nasima al-Sada, another resident, told “one bomber blew himself up near the mosque”, frequented by Shiites in downtown Qatif on the Gulf coast. No bystanders were hurt, she said.

Pictures said to be from the scene circulated by residents showed a small fire burning in the street, severed limbs and what appeared to be a severed head. The blast, near the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, was the second suicide bombing on Monday in the predominantly Sunni kingdom. Since late 2014 a series of bombings and shootings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group in Saudi Arabia have targeted minority Shiites as well as members of the security forces. Most of the attacks have been staged in Eastern Province, home to the majority of Shiites in the Gulf state.

In January, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the oasis region of Al-Ahsa, killing four people before worshippers disarmed and tied up an accomplice who had fired on them.

Last October in the Qatif area, a gunman fired on faithful marking the Shiite commemoration of Ashura in the Qatif area, killing five before police shot him dead. Ashura is one of the holiest occasions for the Shiite faith. In June last year, four Shiites died preventing a suicide bomber from entering the hall of Al-Anoud mosque in Dammam city adjacent to Qatif. Days earlier, 21 people were killed in another Shiite mosque bombing in Eastern Province.

Groups claiming affiliation with IS said they carried out those blasts and the Ashura shooting. During Ashura in 2014, gunmen killed seven Shiite worshippers, including children, in the eastern town of Al-Dalwa.  The interior ministry said the suspects had links to IS, which regards Shiites as heretics.


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