Al Jazeera has reported that there have been two explosions near a mosque in the city of Qatif, which is located in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Reports also indicate that another explosion took place near the security checkpoint at the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina. Along with Mecca and Jerusalem, Medina is one of Islam’s holiest cities.
In Qatif, witnesses say that a sucide bomber blew himself up outside a Shia mosque, but that no one was harmed aside from the bomber himself. According to witnesses, the bomber’s body parts were strewn across the street.
‘Suicide bomber for sure. I can see the body.’
It is likely that these attacks were planned to take advantage of the crowds that would be gathered at the mosques for the nightly prayers that take place during the month of Ramadan.
A Saudi Gazette columnist told Al Jazeera:
‘We are in the last 10 days of Ramadan and those places are crowded because of that for Maghreb [sunset] prayers.’
Reports indicate that no one, aside from the bombers, was injured in either of these two attacks. However, there was a third this morning that proved more dangerous. A bomber blew himself up outside of a U.S. consulate in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Aside from the bomber, no one was killed, but two security guards were injured.
The U.S. State Department is working with Saudi authorities to gather more information and find out who is responsible. Currently, no one has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks, but ISIS is a possible suspect.
In October 2015, the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shia mosque in the city of Najran that killed at least one person. One of ISIS’s most deadly attacks on Saudi soil occurred at a mosque in Abha where 15 people were killed.
While ISIS has not claimed responsibility for these bombings, the method and targets are consistent with their previous efforts, such as the aforementioned attack on a Najran Mosque or the recent bombing at an airport in Turkey. We will have more updates available as this story develops.