In what could have been a major attack on the largest mosque in the world, authorities in Saudi Arabia prevented it when security forces surrounded a house where a potential attacker was hiding, officials said. At least 11 people, including five policemen, were wounded when the suspect blew himself up, Saudi interior ministry said, according to reports.
Five people, including one woman who were suspected to be involved in the attack plot were arrested. The attack was planned by three groups — two based in Mecca and one based in Jeddah — the ministry said, according to reports.
Some images were circulated on social media which showed an alley filled with bricks and debris apparently from a blast.
This was not the first mosque targeted during the holy month of Ramadan. Earlier this week, militants attacked the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday with the Islamic State group (ISIS) allegedly responsible for it. The ancient landmark with its famous leaning minaret was where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a “caliphate” in 2014.
Aerial photos showed the mosque and its minaret were largely destroyed.
Last week in the U.K., a 47-year-old van driver hit worshippers who were leaving from Finsbury Park Mosque in London after evening prayers. The incident left one dead and 11 injured, the police said.
The Metropolitan Police Service said the attacker was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder in the immediate aftermath of the incident, the Guardian reported.
The rising attacks on mosques during the month of Ramadan is reportedly due to extremists’ believing the month is a good time to attack, targeting mosques crowded with people. Deakin University counterterrorism expert Greg Barton told news.com.au “the risk of terror attacks being carried out ‘on mosques … or…