Saudi says suicide bomber killed in foiled Mecca plot

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi security forces said Saturday they disrupted a plot to attack the Grand Mosque at Mecca, home to the holiest site in Islam, just as the fasting month of Ramadan concludes.

The Interior Ministry said it launched raids in Jiddah province, as well as two areas in Mecca itself, including the Ajyad Al-Masafi neighbourhood, located near the Grand Mosque.

There, police said they engaged in a shootout at a three-story house a suicide bomber, who blew himself up and led to the building’s collapse. He was killed while the blast wounded six foreigners and five members of the security forces, according to the Interior Ministry’s statement. Five others were arrested, it said.

The Interior Ministry “confirms that this terrorist network, whose terrorist plan was thwarted, violated, in what they would have perpetrated, all sanctities by targeting the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth.”

“They obeyed their evil and corrupt self-serving schemes managed from abroad whose aim is to destabilize the security and stability of this blessed country,” the statement said.

The ministry did not name the group involved in the attack. The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom battled an al-Qaida insurgency for years and more recently has faced attacks from a local branch of the Islamic State group.

The disrupted attack comes at a sensitive time in Saudi Arabia as King Salman earlier this week short-circuited the kingdom’s succession by making his son, Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, first in line to the throne. The newly appointed crown prince, 31 years old, is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen against Shiite rebels, now stalemated. He has also offered aggressive comments about the kingdom confronting Shiite power Iran.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties to neighbouring Qatar and are trying to isolate the energy-rich tiny country over its alleged support of militants and ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied those allegations.

The Grand Mosque has been the target of militants before. In 1979, a group of militants seized the mosque, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that Muslims pray toward five times a day, for two weeks as they demanded the royal family abdicate the throne. The official toll of the assault and subsequent fighting to retake the mosque from hundreds of armed militants was over 100 people killed and 500 wounded.


Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Art Battle Red Deer to support Women of Excellence Awards

Art Battle Red Deer will be April 6 at the Radisson Hotel

Eliminating racial discrimination events in Red Deer this week

Two upcoming events aim to inspire change and eliminate racial discrimination in… Continue reading

Outfitter facing Wildlife Act charges

It is alleged archery-only hunting licences used out of season

Sunnybrook pies in demand

Just in time for Easter

Red Deer’s Chopped Canada winner takes break from restaurant business

Pete Sok closes Sophear, but plans to eventually relocate

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

21-year-old charged with drug trafficking in Rocky Mountain House

RCMP seized drugs after conducting a traffic stop and charged a 21-year-old… Continue reading

Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms

OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms… Continue reading

Alberta factoring in Trans Mountain pipeline in budget forecasts

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta will rely on anticipated… Continue reading

Pooches and pickup truck stolen in Edmonton found in Rimbey

Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey who were in a… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports wholesale sales up 0.1 per cent in January

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says wholesale sales rose 0.1 per cent to… Continue reading

Right whale deaths cost Gulf snow crab fishery its designation as sustainable

HALIFAX — An international organization has suspended a sustainability certificate for the… Continue reading

Financial watchdog says controls to mitigate sales risk at banks ‘insufficient’

TORONTO — Canada’s financial consumer watchdog says there are “insufficient” controls in… Continue reading

Sheriff official: 3 injured in Maryland high school shooting

GREAT MILLS, Md. — A shooting at a Maryland high school Tuesday… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month