Suicide bombing targets Saudi mosque for security forces
An explosion probably triggered by a suicide bomber ripped through a mosque used by Saudi police Thursday killing at least 13 people in the southern city of Abha, the interior ministry said.
State television El-Ikhbariya, which broke the news earlier, gave a death toll of 17.
The explosion took place as worshippers were praying at a mosque used by Saudi emergency forces in Abha.
Al-Araby al-Jadeed's correspondent in Saudi revealed that most of the victims were new recruits, adding that the bomber who carried out the attack was dressed in a cleaner's uniform.
The explosion happened at the headquarters of the SWAT team, which is tasked with domestic security, a spokesman told AFP.
It was too early to say who may have carried out the attack, he added.
Saudi Arabia has been on high alert for attacks by the Islamic State group, who have been blamed for killing policemen and for slaughtering members of the minority Shia community.
The extremist group considers Shias to be heretics.
Thursday's bombing was the most serious in recent months against Saudi security forces, who have been targeted in attacks blamed on the Islamic State group.
In mid-July, a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint near a prison in the capital Riyadh. It killed the 19-year-old driver and wounded two policemen, the interior ministry said.
In the southwestern city of Taif on July 3, a policeman was gunned down during a raid in which three people were arrested and flags of the IS group found, police said earlier.
On successive Fridays in May suicide bombings at mosques of the minority Shia community in Eastern Province killed a total of 25 people.
An IS-affiliated group calling itself Najd Province - which takes its name from the region around Riyadh - claimed those attacks as well as another suicide bombing that killed 26 people at a Shia mosque in Kuwait in June.
"The Islamic State can feed on decades of anti-Shia incitement in Saudi schools, Islamic universities and the media," Toby Matthiesen, a research fellow in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Cambridge, wrote in a blog for The Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Gulf neighbours last year joined a US-led military coalition bombing IS in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation in the kingdom.
Since March, Riyadh has also led an Arab coalition bombing rebels in neighbouring Yemen.
Matthiesen wrote that increased anti-Shia rhetoric since the start of the Yemen war "has had a negative impact on the Shia in Saudi Arabia".