CAIRO (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in an attack on a mosque used by members of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the interior ministry said, an assault that an online statement said was carried out by Islamic State.
The attacker struck as men were praying in the mosque in the headquarters of the Special Emergency Force in Abha, the capital of Asir province, a ministry spokesman told state news agency SPA.
Twelve of those killed were members of the force and three were workers in the compound, the ministry said. It earlier put the toll at 13, but later said two of the wounded had died.
A statement circulating on Twitter said an Islamic State suicide bomber had attacked a “military camp” in Asir province. It did not mention a mosque and Reuters could not verify the statement’s authenticity.
“He (the suicide bomber) was able to infiltrate security barriers and reach their wicked gathering inside a training camp in Abha City in the Asir area where the force of the explosion led to the death and injury of dozens,” the statement, purporting to come from Islamic State, said.
In May, two suicide bomb attacks on Shi‘ite Muslim mosques in Saudi Arabia were claimed by Islamic State. The first on a mosque in Qatif in the east of the kingdom killed 21 worshippers, and another four died in a bombing a week later at a mosque in Dammam.
Another bombing claimed by Islamic State on a Shi‘ite mosque in Kuwait in June killed 27 people.
The militant group, bitterly opposed to Gulf Arab rulers, is trying to stir sectarian confrontation on the Arabian peninsula to bring about the overthrow of the states’ ruling dynasties.
It has urged young Saudi Sunni Muslims in the kingdom to attack targets including Shi‘ites. There was no immediate indication of the sectarian affiliation of the mosque in Thursday’s bombing.
Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine and Mostafa Hashem; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Andrew Heavens