3 Suicide Attacks in Saudi Arabia Extend Global Wave of Bombings in a Bloody Week

Smoke billows from the site of an explosion outside the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Smoke billows from the site of an explosion outside the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Suicide bombers suspected of links to the Islamic State struck for the fourth time in less than a week, targeting three locations in Saudi Arabia in an extension of what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of worldwide bombings coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The triple attacks Monday ranged across the kingdom: near a U.S. consulate in Jiddah, a mosque frequented by Shiite worshipers in an eastern district, and at a security center in one of Islam’s holiest sites, the historic city of Medina. The Saudi Interior Ministry told the state-run television station that four security guards died in the Medina attack and five were injured.

The attacks offered further evidence that in the two years since it declared the existence of its so-called caliphate, the Islamic State has developed the capacity to strike at will in diverse locations around the world.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the bombings bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State, with suicide attackers picking targets that closely coincided with the group’s declared enemies: Americans, members of the Shiite Muslim minority and the Saudi security services.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry identified the bomber behind the Jiddah attack as a 34-year-old Pakistani, Abdullah Qalzar Khan, who it said arrived in the kingdom 12 years ago to work as a driver. The statement gave no other immediate details.

The militant group, as it has in each of the three years since it announced its existence, had urged its followers to carry out attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, abstention and prayer that will conclude Wednesday with a holiday of feasting and family visits.

This has turned into the most blood-soaked Ramadan yet in the Islamic State’s campaign. At least 290 people have been killed in attacks claimed by or linked to the Islamic State — at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, at a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and in Baghdad. The vast majority of them, 222 people, died in the Baghdad blast, which targeted a shopping street packed with people celebrating the end of the day’s fast and shopping for the approaching holiday.

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SOURCE: Liz Sly 
The Washington Post