Blast rocks mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing at least 1

AP News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2015 2:38 PM
Blast rocks mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing at least 1

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a mosque in southern Saudi Arabia on Monday, killing one person and wounding several others, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.

The blast went off shortly after nightfall in the city of Najran, near the country's southern border with Yemen. It was the latest in a series of bombings that have targeted mosques in the oil-rich kingdom in recent months.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said the bomber detonated his device as worshippers were leaving sunset prayers. He said several wounded victims were being treated in nearby hospitals, and that authorities have launched an investigation.

Najran is the capital of a border region of the same name that is home to a large concentration of the Sunni-ruled kingdom's Ismaili Shiite minority.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Suspicion is likely to fall on the Islamic State militant group. It considers Shiites to be heretics and seeks to weaken the ruling Al-Saud family's legitimacy and custodianship of Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina

The group's two Saudi affiliates have claimed three significant bombings, targeting mosques in Saudi Arabia and another in neighboring Kuwait since May.

The most recent happened in August when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque inside a police compound in the southern city of Abha, some 350 miles south of the holy city of Mecca. That blast killed 15, many of them members of an elite counterterrorism unit whose tasks include protecting the hajj pilgrimage. It was the country's deadliest attack on security forces in years.

Earlier this month, a previously unheard of IS branch calling itself "Bahrain Province" claimed responsibility for a shooting attack targeting Shiite worshippers in eastern Saudi Arabia that killed five. State TV said that attacker wore an explosives belt but was shot dead before he could detonate the explosives.

As it tries to contain IS operations in the country, Saudi Arabia is also leading a coalition of countries fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen that have taken over the capital and other parts of the country.

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Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.