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Foreign bomber strikes near US consulate in Jeddah

A Foreign Suicide Bomber Blew Himself Up Near The American Consulate In Saudi Arabia’s Western City Of Jeddah In The Early Hours Of US Independence Day Today.

PTI | Updated on: 04 Jul 2016, 09:21:41 PM

Riyadh:

A foreign suicide bomber blew himself up near the American consulate in Saudi Arabia’s western city of Jeddah in the early hours of US Independence Day today.

Two security officers were slightly wounded, the interior ministry said, as the American embassy in Riyadh reported no injuries among US consulate staff.

General Mansour al-Turki, the interior ministry spokesman, told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television that the bomber was not Saudi but a “resident foreigner”.

Millions of foreigners, many from Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and Asia, work in the kingdom. The ministry did not specify if the bomber had intended to target the consulate, but an investigation was now under way.

The Jeddah incident came during a wave of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group or blamed on the jihadists, including a suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that killed more than 200 people and recent attacks in Bangladesh and at Istanbul airport. It happened before the end this week of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk.

The interior ministry said security personnel became suspicious of the man near the parking lot of a hospital which is across from the US diplomatic mission.

When they moved in to investigate at around 2:15 am (2315 GMT Sunday) the man “blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking lot”, the ministry said.

A picture carried by the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities, showed a large body part lying on the ground between a taxi and the open door of another car that was peppered with holes.

In a security notice on its website, the American embassy noted media reports of “a suspected suicide attack near the US consulate in Jeddah” early on the morning of July 4.

“The US embassy and consulate remain in contact with the Saudi authorities as they investigate the incident,” it added, urging Americans to “take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country”.

In March last year the US embassy closed its main office, as well as consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran, for a few days over unspecified “security concerns”.

The US consulate in Jeddah was targeted in December 2004 when gunmen opened fire and lobbed explosives at the compound, killing five people, in an attack blamed on Al-Qaeda.

It was not immediately clear who was behind today’s incident, but since late 2014 Saudi security officers and minority Shiites have been hit by deadly violence claimed by IS.

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First Published : 04 Jul 2016, 09:18:00 PM

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