Saudi Arabia says Saudi citizen carried out mosque bombing
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A 21-year-old Saudi man carried out an Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing at a mosque inside a police compound that killed 15 people, the Interior Ministry said Saturday, the latest citizen blamed in a wave of extremist violence gripping the kingdom.
The ministry said Youssef al-Suleiman carried out the attack on the police compound in the city of Abha, the provincial capital of Asir, just after the Islamic State group released a still image of the man and an audio recording purportedly from him. They identified the bomber as Abu Sinan al-Najdi and the audio included a warning that Saudi rulers and troops “will not enjoy peace” for taking part in the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The troops killed in Thursday’s blast belonged to an elite counter-terrorism force. The Interior Ministry on Saturday identified 11 of those killed belonging to the force, while four were Bangladeshi workers.
Hours after Thursday’s bombing, a previously unheard of Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself Hijaz Province of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The kingdom had for years quietly allowed thousands of Saudis to leave the country to join militant groups fighting in Iraq and Syria, until the late King Abdullah last year decreed that fighting abroad was illegal. A wave of Islamic State group attacks has hit the kingdom in recent months, many carried out by Saudi citizens.
The last major attack against Saudi security forces was in April 2004, in the midst of Saudi Arabia’s battle against al-Qaida, when a car bombing hit an Interior Ministry building in Riyadh, killing five people.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.