Riyadh:Six foreign pilgrims were hurt on Friday in Saudi Arabia when a suicide bomber targeting the holiest site of Makkah blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said.
The incident happened around the Grand Mosque, where hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered for early afternoon prayers on the last Friday of this year’s Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.
The United Arab Emirates has strongly condemned the terror crime.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in a statement, condemned the crime in the strongest words, and said the heinous crime shows the level to which the brutality of these terrorists has reached. “No sane person can give any justification or explanation for such a crime,” the statement said
Ministry spokesman General Mansour Al Turki told Saudi television that police “foiled the terrorist plan that targeted the security of the Grand Mosque, pilgrims and worshippers.”
In dawn raids on the holy city Makkah and the Red Sea city of Jeddah officers arrested five suspects, including a woman, before surrounding the bomber’s location around the Grand Mosque.
“Unfortunately he started shooting towards security personnel once he noticed their presence in the area, which led to an exchange of fire before he blew himself up,” Turki said.
The blast partially collapsed the building where he had taken refuge, injuring the six pilgrims, Turki said.
He added that four had already been released from hospital, and five security men were also slightly hurt.
Since late 2014 Saudi Arabia has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the Daesh group.
Purported images from the scene that circulated on social media showed an alley filled with bricks and other debris apparently from a blast.
Near the end of the holy month of Ramadan last year in the holy city of Madinah four security officers died in an explosion close to Islam’s second holiest site, the Prophet’s Mosque.
It was one of three suicide blasts around the kingdom on the same day, in which a total of seven people were believed killed. The others occurred in Jeddah and in the city of Qatif.
The US Central Intelligence Agency said those attacks bore the hallmarks of Daesh.
Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi has called for attacks against the Kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition battling the group in Syria and Iraq.
Since July last year police have arrested around 40 people, including Saudis and Pakistanis, for alleged extremist links.