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Suicide bomber strikes near Prophet’s Mosque in holy Saudi city of Medina

By Zaid Sabah

In this 2015 photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, prays at the Prophet Mohammed Mosque, the second holiest site in Islam, in the Saudi holy city of Medina.
In this 2015 photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, prays at the Prophet Mohammed Mosque, the second holiest site in Islam, in the Saudi holy city of Medina. AP

(Bloomberg) – A bomber attacked a security post near the Prophet’s mosque in the Saudi holy city of Medina in one of three attacks that struck the kingdom on Monday, extending a terrorism wave that has killed scores in the Middle East and beyond over the past two weeks.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Nabawi Mosque in Medina, one of Islam’s holiest shrines, was the target of the attack. The bomber failed to enter the mosque’s courtyard and detonated his explosives, killing two security guards, Saudi- owned Arabiya reported. In the eastern city of Qatif, two bombers blew themselves up outside a Shiite mosque, Arabiya reported. Earlier in the day, another militant carried out a suicide attack near the U.S. consulate in the Red-Sea city of Jeddah, and Kuwait bolstered security at oil installations.

The blasts in the world’s top oil exporter follow a string of attacks in Iraq, Bangladesh and Turkey as Islamic State’s losses mount in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Last month, Iraqi forces retook the city of Fallujah, setting the stage for an offensive on Mosul, Islamic State’s main stronghold in OPEC’s second- biggest producer.

“The message they are trying to convey is that we are everywhere and we can reach even the heartland of the Islamic world,” said Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of London-based consulting firm Cornerstone Global Associates. “It’s very worrying because there are no geographical or moral limits to what they can do.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a truck bombing that left more than 150 people dead in a popular commercial street in Baghdad on Sunday, two days after armed men killed 20 hostages in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. On June 29, more than 40 people were killed when three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s main international airport.

The surge in violence also comes after the radical Sunni group urged followers to stage more attacks in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which ends this week. “That is likely an element in the increase in attacks,” said Graham Griffiths, an analyst at Control Risks in Dubai.

In Kuwait, the government raised security to the maximum level at its oil facilities, the state-run Kuna news agency reported. The suspects in custody had intended to target a Shiite mosque and one of the Interior Ministry’s facilities with suicide bombs at the end of Ramadan, Kuna said, citing an Interior Ministry statement. One of the suspects is a Kuwaiti policeman.

Islamic State followers have staged several attacks against Shiite Muslims, security forces and Western individuals in the kingdom over the past two years. In June last year, a Saudi-born man blew himself up in a mosque during the weekly Friday prayers in Kuwait, killing more than two dozen worshipers.

The six countries making up the Gulf Cooperation Council provide almost a quarter of global oil supplies. Energy assets in the region and major facilities in Iraq have been spared.

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