Pakistani nationals held for Saudi blasts

saudi blasts

RIYADH: Nineteen people, including 12 Pakistani nationals , have been arrested in Saudi Arabia following suicide attacks on Monday, including one near Islam’s second-holiest site in the city of Medina, the kingdom’s interior ministry said on Thursday.

Seven people are believed to have been killed and two wounded in three separate attacks — in Medina , at a Shiite mosque in Qatif, and in western Jeddah, the economic capital, not far from the US consulate.

A 26-year-old Saudi man, Naer Moslem Hammad al-Balawi, who had a “history of drug use” had been identified as the perpetrator of the Medina attack , the ministry said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency.

The Qatif attack, it added, was carried out by three “terrorists,” including one man named as Abderrahman Saleh Mohammed al-Amr, 23, who it said was known to the security services for taking part in protests.

The Jeddah attacker was a Pakistani man identified as Abdullah Qalzar Khan, a driver who had been living in the city for 12 years, the ministry said earlier.

Four people were killed in the Medina explosion near the Prophet’s Mosque, which came as Muslims prepared for this week’s Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramazan.

The body parts of three people were found after another suicide bombing in the Shiite-populated Gulf city of Qatif, the ministry said earlier.

Two police officers were wounded the Jeddah attack.

The US embassy in Riyadh reported no casualties among consulate staff during the attack, which coincided with the US July 4 Independence Day holiday.

No group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attacks so far.

Militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. The city is home to the second most sacred site in Islam, a mosque built in the 7th century by the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, which also houses his tomb.

The Al Saud ruling family considers itself the protector of both sites.

Islamic State has said the Saudi rulers are apostates and has declared its intention to topple them.

IS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for attacks against Saudi Arabia, which is taking part in the US-led coalition bombing the jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Monday’s attacks highlighted how young Saudi men are being drawn to Islamic State, which has launched attacks on Shias in smaller Gulf Arab states and stepped up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramazan.

King Salman, in a speech on Tuesday marking Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that celebrates the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramazan, said a major challenge facing Saudi Arabia was preserving hope for youth who faced the risk of radicalization.

Salman said his country would strike with an “iron hand” against people who preyed on youth vulnerable to religious extremism.

Saudi security officials have said Islamic State supporters inside the kingdom mainly act independent of the group in Iraq and Syria, its main areas of operation.

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