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IS group claims second attack on Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia

FRANCE 24's The Observers | Smoke rises after an explosion struck near a mosque in the eastern Saudi city of Dammam on May 29

The Islamic State (IS) group on Friday claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing on a Shiite Muslim mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, the second such attack in the world’s top oil-exporting country in a week.

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Four people were killed and several cars were set ablaze in the blast targeting the al-Anoud mosque in Dammam.

While the interior ministry said a car exploded outside the mosque during noon prayers, witnesses said a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up in the nearby parking lot when guards stopped him from entering.

Residents circulated pictures of the body of a man believed to be the suicide bomber as well as pictures of black clouds of smoke billowing over a parking lot outside the mosque.

A video posted on social media showed the congregation inside the mosque reacting with shock and alarm to the sound of the explosion outside.

An IS group statement named the suicide bomber as Abu Jandal al-Jizrawi and said he had managed to reach his target despite heightened security.

In the meantime, Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s central command, said the US military did not think the IS group “pose(s) a significant threat” to Saudi Arabia at this time.

The Pentagon declined to speculate on the Sunni militant group’s claim of responsibility for the attack.

Last week, the IS group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in al Qadeeh village, near al-Qatif city. That attack left 21 people dead and wounded almost 100 in what was the bloodiest militant attack to hit the kingdom in years.

Sectarian conflict

The IS group has openly acknowledged that it wants to stir sectarian confrontation as a way of hastening the overthrow of the ruling Al Saud family and has repeatedly urged young Saudi Sunnis to attack targets, including Shiite Muslims.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, emir of neighbouring Kuwait, on Wednesday said that sectarian strife was the single most serious threat facing Muslims and called for immediate action to try to tackle it.

Some commentators in Saudi Arabia discussing the Qadeeh bombing have said the kingdom has not done enough to crack down on online abuse of Shiites, a discourse which Shiites say provides an incubator for violence against the minority sect.

IS group sympathisers exchanged photos of the scene on social media, saying the attack was targeting “rejectionists” – a term usually used by the militant group as well as by al Qaeda.

Both militant Islamist groups view Shiites as heretics.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are locked in a tussle for influence in the region, where wars have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives mainly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

 

 

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