12 Saudi Security Forces Killed in IS Attack

12 Saudi Security Forces Killed in IS Attack12 Saudi Security Forces Killed in IS Attack

A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in an attack on a mosque used by members of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the interior ministry said, an assault that an online statement said was carried out by the Islamic State militant group.

The attacker struck as men were praying in the mosque in the headquarters of the Special Emergency Force in Abha, the capital of Asir Province, a ministry spokesman told state news agency SPA, Reuters reported.

Twelve of those killed were members of the force and three were workers in the compound, the ministry said. It earlier put the toll at 13, but later said two of the wounded had died.

State television El-Ikhbariya, which broke the news earlier, gave a death toll of 17.

A statement circulating on Twitter said an IS suicide bomber had attacked a “military camp” in Asir. It did not mention a mosque and the authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.

“He (the suicide bomber) was able to infiltrate security barriers and reach their wicked gathering inside a training camp in Abha City in Asir, where the force of the explosion led to the death and injury of dozens,” the statement, purporting to come from IS, said.

Thursday’s bombing was the most serious in recent months against Saudi security forces who have been targeted in attacks blamed on the IS group.

 Attacks on Shia Mosques

In May, two suicide bomb attacks on Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia were claimed by IS. The first on a mosque in Qatif in the east of the kingdom killed 21 worshippers and four others died in a bombing a week later at a mosque in Dammam.

In mid-July, a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint near a prison in the capital Riyadh, killing the 19-year-old driver and wounding two policemen.

Last month, in the southwestern city of Taif, a policeman was gunned down during a raid in which three people were arrested and flags of the IS group found.

Another bombing claimed by IS on a Shia mosque in Kuwait in June killed 27 people. Kuwait identified a Saudi national as the assailant behind the deadly attack later that month.

An IS-affiliated group calling itself Najd Province, which takes its name from the region around Riyadh, claimed those attacks as well as the suicide bombing at the Shia Imam Sadeq (PBUH) Mosque in Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti government declared itself at war with militants and said the bombing, Kuwait’s worst militant attack in decades, was aimed at stoking sectarian strife in the majority Sunni state where the two sects have traditionally coexisted in peace.

Up to 30% of Kuwait’s 1.4 million citizens are Shia Muslims, who have enjoyed relatively good relations with the country’s majority Sunnis.

The militant group has urged young Saudi Sunni Muslims in the kingdom to attack targets, including Shias. There was no immediate indication of the sectarian affiliation of the mosque in Thursday’s bombing.