Reuters in Dubai
At least four people dead after one suicide bomber blew himself up and a second attacker was reportedly overpowered by worshippers
A suicide bomb and gun attack on Shia worshippers has killed at least four people in eastern Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said, extending a spate of attacks on the kingdom’s Shia minority.
At least 18 people were wounded in the assault on the Imam Rida mosque in the Eastern province town of Mahasen, a mixed Sunni-Shia district.
There was no claim of responsibility, but it resembled previous attacks by Sunni militants from Islamic State on Shias. The oil-producing Eastern province is home to Saudi Arabia’s Shia community.
This month Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, most of them al-Qaida militants convicted of terrorist attacks as well as the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
The interior ministry said security forces had prevented two suicide bombers from entering the Mahasen mosque. One bomber blew himself up outside, killing four people. Security forces exchanged fire with the second attacker and arrested him.
Witnesses said worshippers overpowered the second attacker after he opened fire in the mosque, where 200 people were performing Friday prayers.
“The explosion happened outside the mosque, at the courtyard of the mosque, while another one entered with a machine gun. There are martyrs and wounded,” one witness said in an audio message circulated on social media.
“The young men grabbed his machine gun and beat him up, but he did not die. The police then came and took him away and the wounded were taken in private cars because ambulance cars did not arrive quickly.”
Another witness, speaking to Reuters by telephone, said a third attacker was believed to have been involved and that he may have fled.
A video recording provided by activists showed a crowd surrounding a man prone on the floor, turning him over and unfastening what they said was a suicide belt around his waist.
Saudi Arabia has suffered a string of deadly gun and bomb attacks in recent months, many of them claimed by Islamic State.
Islamic State is bitterly hostile towards Gulf Arab monarchies and is seen to be trying to stoke Sunni-Shia sectarian confrontation within Arabian peninsula states to destabilise and ultimately overthrow their dynasties. It considers Shias to be heretics.