Saudi forces foil July 4th US consulate attack
A suicide bomber was killed and two other people wounded in a blast near the US consulate in Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah early on Monday
A suicide bomber was killed and two other people wounded in a blast near the US consulate in Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah early on Monday, the interior ministry said.
Security officers became suspicious of a man near the parking lot of a hospital, which is directly across from the US diplomatic mission.
When they moved in to investigate "he blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking" at around 2:15 a.m., the ministry said.
The two security officers who approached him were lightly injured.
The explosion happened shortly before the dawn prayers after which Muslims begin their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Mansour al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi interior ministry said the suicide bomber was a “resident,” who was working in the Kingdom.
Turki also described him as a man who was in his 30s.
However, the spokesman said “[the culprit’s] intentions are still unclear,” since the area that was targeted had a mosque, security forces as well as the US consulate.
“Investigations are still undergoing,” Turki added, saying he can not disclose any further information until details are verified.
A picture carried by the Sabq online newspaper appeared to show a large body part lying on the ground between a taxi and the open door of another car, peppered with shrapnel holes.
A spokesman for the US State Department told Reuters news agency it was aware of reports of a blast in Jeddah and was seeking more information from the Saudi government. He added that all staff at the consulate were accounted for.
A State Department message sent to US citizens in Saudi Arabia noted the reports of the attack and reiterated earlier advice to remain aware of their surroundings and take extra precautions when traveling in the country.
A witness speaking to Reuters said the explosion appeared to have taken place about 20 meters from an outer checkpoint of the consulate.
There was no immediate word on who was responsible, but since late 2014 Saudi security officers and minority groups have been hit by deadly violence claimed by ISIS.
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".
(With AFP and Reuters)