A suicide bomber blew himself up near the US consulate in the western Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah in the early hours of US Independence Day yesterday, wounding two security officers.
The Saudi Ministry of the Interior said the two officers suffered minor injuries, while the US embassy in Riyadh said there were no casualties or injuries among US consulate staff.
The ministry did not specify whether the bomber intended to target the consulate, saying that an investigation was under way.
The incident came amid a wave of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group or blamed on the extremists, including a suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that killed more at least 213 people and the 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 a man near the parking lot of a hospital which is opposite the US diplomatic mission.
When they moved in to investigate at about 2:15am, the man “blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking lot,” the ministry said.
A picture carried by the Sabq online media outlet — which is close to the Saudi authorities — showed what appeared to be the remains of a man lying on the ground between a taxi and the open door of another car that was peppered with holes.
In a security notice posted on its Web site, the US embassy noted media reports of “a suspected suicide attack near the US consulate in Jeddah... which occurred in the early morning hours of July 4.”
“There are no casualties or injuries among US consulate staff. Media report two Saudi police officers were injured,” it said.
“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 traveling throughout the country.”
It was not immediately clear who might have been behind yesterday’s incident, but since late 2014 Saudi security officers and minority Shiites have been hit by deadly violence claimed by IS.
Branding Saudi Arabia’s rulers “apostate tyrants,” IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for attacks on the nation, which is taking part in the US-led coalition bombing the extremists in Syria and Iraq.
In May, the interior ministry said four suspected Muslim militants died — two by blowing themselves up — during a raid east of Jeddah.
Two of them were wanted for some of the deadliest recent attacks in the nation.
These included the suicide bombing which killed 15 people at a mosque inside a Saudi special forces compound in the southwestern city of Abha in August last year.
Another suspect killed in the May raid was sought in connection with deadly suicide blasts at two Shiite mosques in the east of the nation.
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