Saudi authorities to give update on suicide attacks

The attacks all seem to have been timed to coincide with the approach of Eid al-Fitr.

Picture: Google Maps.

CAPE TOWN - Saudi authorities are expected to provide more information during the course of the day on who is behind three suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia.

The bombing at the Prophet's Mosque in the City of Medina yesterday followed blasts in the cities of Jeddah and Qatif.

The explosions targeting US diplomats, Shi'ite worshippers and a security headquarters at a mosque in the holy city of Medina followed days of mass killings claimed by the Islamic State group in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq.

The attacks all seem to have been timed to coincide with the approach of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that celebrates the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

A suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a parking lot outside the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the second-holiest site in Islam, a Saudi security spokesperson told state news agency SPA.

"Security men noticed a suspicious person among those approaching the Prophet's Mosque in an open area used as parking lots for visitors' cars. As they confronted him, he blew himself up with an explosive belt, which resulted in his death and the martyrdom of four of the security men," the spokesperson said.

Four security officers were killed and several others wounded in the attacks.

Managing editor of _Arab News Daily, _

Hani Hazimeh, said: "We expect the police or interior ministry to release a statement today or tonight for more details on those attacks."

A video sent to Reuters by a witness to the aftermath of the Medina bombing showed a large blaze among parked cars in the fading evening light, with the sound of sirens in the background. A picture sent to Reuters showed a burnt and bleeding man lying on a stretcher in a hospital.

Other pictures circulating on social media showed dark smoke billowing from flames near the Mosque of the Prophet, originally built in the 7th century by the Prophet Muhammad, who is buried there along with his first two successors.

In Qatif, an eastern city that is home to many members of the Shi'ite minority, at least one and possibly two explosions struck near a Shi'ite mosque. The security spokesperson said the body of a bomber and two other people have been identified, without providing any more details.

Witnesses described seeing body parts, apparently of a suicide bomber, in the aftermath.

A resident of the city reached by telephone said there were believed to be no casualties there apart from the attacker, as worshippers had already gone home to break their fasts. Civil defence forces were cleaning up the area and police were investigating, the resident said.

A video circulating on social media and purporting to show the aftermath of a Qatif blast showed an agitated crowd on a street, with a fire raging near a building and a bloody body part lying on the ground. Reuters could not immediately verify the video.