Explosions In Saudi Arabia — Blasts Happen Near Mosques In Medina And Qatif Cities [Updated]

Not even 24 hours have passed since we reported that a suicide bomber detonated an explosive near the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and we are already seeing reports that more explosions have taken place in the country. According to Al Jazeera, two explosions struck near a mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Qatif. Also, a local TV channel al-Arabiya, reported that a blast happened at the Prophet’s Mosque — Masjid-e-Nabawi — in Medina, quite close to the security headquarters. The explosion has reportedly taken the lives of reportedly, three suicide bombers and two security forces officers. placed at the security post. Some reports claim that it is a suicide bombing where others state it could be a gas explosion — details are still pretty sketchy.

Twitter has been abuzz with activity and photos show a black smoke at the mosque where Prophet Muhammad is buried. Talking to the Associated Press, a South African practitioner of Islam, Qari Ziyaad Patel, 36, stated that he heard the blasts just when the Azaan (call) to sunset prayers was ending. He told the Associated Press, “The vibrations were very strong. It sounded like a building imploded.”

Some reports are stating that an 18-year-old male suicide bomber approached the security officers to share food for breaking fast. Post which, he detonated the vest.

Masjid-e-Nawabi is a huge mosque in the heart of Medina and a very holy destination for the believers of Islam. It was built by the Prophet Muhammed in the 7th century. These explosions have occurred right in the wake of Saudi Arabia declaring that the country will celebrate Eid tomorrow, after fasting for the month of Ramadan.

Talking about the blasts in Qatif, witnesses speaking to Al Jazeera said that a suicide bomber killed himself outside the Shia mosque in Qatif. However, no one has been reported injured or dead yet. They reported that they saw body parts of the suicide bomber. A resident reported to the AFP, “Suicide bomber for sure. I can see the body.”

Another eyewitness informed Reuters that one of the explosions wrecked a car near the mosque, which was immediately followed by another explosion before 7 p.m. Saudi Arabia local time. Another witness who contacted Reuters by phone mentioned that no one was hurt because everyone in the area was back home to break their fasts.

Shiites are a majority in Qatif, which is interesting considering considering Saudi Arabia is a Sunni-ruled kingdom. For those who are unaware, Shia and Sunni are two sects in Islam.

Michael Horowitz, a prominent geopolitical and security analyst, has been tweeting incessantly about the blasts in Medina. He feels that both the attacks — the one on Medina and Qatif — were coordinated considering the timing.

The Associated Press tried to reach the Interior Ministry of Saudi Arabia for a comment regarding both the blasts but it reportedly couldn’t.

Earlier today, a suicide bomber had orchestrated an explosion near the U.S. embassy in Jeddah, as reported by the Interior Ministry. The suicide bomber detonated his vest when two security guards, suspicious of his activities, approached him. The bomber died immediately and the security guards have suffered minor injuries. No one else was hurt but some cars in the parking lot were damaged.

Spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Major Gen. Mansour al-Turki, stated that the security guards were alert enough to capture the attention of the security guards. He also mentioned that most of the staff at the heavily fortified U.S. Consulate in Jeddah had moved to a new location. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The U.S. Embassy also confirmed that there were no casualties and that they are in contact with the Saudi Arabian authorities to investigate the attack.

[Photo by Al-Ekhbariya/AP Images]