Many Killed in Attack on Shiite Mosque in S. Arabia

Many Killed in Attack on Shiite Mosque in S. ArabiaMany Killed in Attack on Shiite Mosque in S. Arabia

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers, killing at least seven people and wounding several others, witnesses said. It was the latest attack in a region of the country that’s been a hotbed of sectarian tension.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported the blast in Qudeih town in Qatif province, citing an unnamed Interior Ministry spokesman, without giving details. There were at least 15 casualties, according to witnesses, Bloomberg reported.

One witness described a huge explosion at the Imam Ali Mosque in a village in the province of Qatif, where more than 150 people were praying. A source said that there were at least 30 casualties estimated in the attack. “The mosque is destroyed,” al-Shayeb said by phone. “A lot of people have blood on their clothes from helping take the casualties to hospital.”

It was the second assault on Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority since November, when three assailants used automatic weapons and handguns to kill five people and injure nine others in the Eastern Province village of al-Dalwah. The area is home to most of Saudi’s Shiites, who have held sporadic protests in the towns of Awwamiya and al-Qatif.

The kingdom's Shiite community accounts for between 10-15 percent of the total population. They say they face discrimination in seeking educational opportunities or government employment and that they are referred to disparagingly in text books and by some officials and state-funded clerics.