IS claim Saudi Shia mosque suicide bombing

IS claim Saudi Shia mosque suicide bombing
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shia mosque in the southern Saudi city of Najran on Monday that killed two.
3 min read
27 October, 2015
IS claimed responsibility for an attack on a mosque in Dammam in May [AFP]

Two people were killed Monday in a suicide bombing at a mosque in the Saudi city of Najran that was claimed by the Islamic State group.

The jihadist group has repeatedly targeted Shia in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

The attack occurred just after Maghrib early evening prayers at the Al-Mashad mosque in the southern city's Dahza neighbourhood, said the Saudi interior ministry.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack on what it said was an Ismaili Shia mosque, said SITE Intelligence Group, a US monitoring organisation.

Al-Hijaz Province, a group affiliated to IS, said on Twitter that a fighter named Abu Ishaq al-Hijazi detonated his explosive belt at the mosque, causing "many" casualties.

In their statement, the group said the assailant "detonated his explosive belt in an assembly of the rejectionist Ismaili polytheists".

In August, the same group claimed another blast in Saudi Arabia's southern region. Fifteen people died in that suicide bombing at a mosque frequented by members of a police special weapons and tactics unit in Abha city.

     Roughly half of Najran's population belongs to the Ismaili community that is tolerated by the regime.

"As worshippers were leaving the mosque, a person wearing a suicide belt entered and blew himself up amongst them," the ministry said of the latest attack.

It said one person was killed at the scene and a second died later of injuries. The wounded were taken to hospital, it said without giving a number.

Saudi news channel Al-Ekhbariya earlier said that apart from the initial death, 12 people were wounded. It had also reported that the attacker was wounded.

On its Twitter account, the ministry said investigators found a vehicle belonging to the bomber.

The vehicle contained a letter to his parents about his crime, the ministry added.

IS targeting 'heretics'

Neither the ministry nor the television specified whether the mosque belonged to the kingdom's Sunni majority or the Shia minority.

Najran is a pro-government area and roughly half of its population belongs to the Ismaili community that is tolerated by the regime.

Most of Saudi Arabia's Shia live in Eastern Province, where they have been targeted four times in the past year by bombings and shootings linked to the IS group of Sunni extremists, who consider them heretics.

The latest attack in the east occurred on 16 October when a gunman fired on Shia commemorating Ashura in the Qatif area, before police shot him dead.

Ashura is one of the holiest occasions for the Shia faith.

In May, four Shia died preventing a suicide bomber from entering the hall of Al-Anoud mosque in Dammam city.

Days earlier, 21 people were killed in another Shia mosque bombing in Eastern Province.

Groups claiming affiliation with IS said they carried out the earlier blasts and the Ashura shooting.

During Ashura last year, gunmen killed seven Shia worshippers, including children, in the eastern town of Al-Dalwa. The interior ministry said the suspects had links to IS.

Najran is also on the frontline of a Saudi-led coalition war against Zaidi Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Shells fired from Yemen have landed in Najran, and Saudi troops on the border have skirmished with rebels since the coalition in March began air strikes against the Houthis.