A suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up after authorities prevented plans of a terror attack in the holy city of Mecca.
On Saturday, the Interior Ministry confirmed that Saudi security forces foiled an imminent suicide attack set on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. In a statement, it was revealed that three cells planned a violent attack targeting worshippers and other civilians at the mosque as Ramadan nears its end.
According to reports, the Saudi security forces set out a raid around Jiddah and two other areas in Mecca, including the Ajyad Al-Masafi — a neighborhood located near the Grand Mosque.
The ministry revealed that the authorities managed to corner the would-be attacker in a three-story apartment as they engaged in a shootout. It was when the suicide bomber decided to set off the explosive, blowing himself up.
The explosion also caused the apartment building to collapse, leaving six foreigners and five members of the Saudi security forces injured. The blast also damaged several properties and structures nearby.
Saudi security forces have arrested five people, including one woman. The Interior Ministry also revealed that three groups who planned the deadly attack were from Mecca and Jeddah.
Authorities have yet to verify the identity of the attacker or the group that plotted the attack. However, the Interior Ministry pointed to foreign involvement, according to Saudi Press Agency.
It can be recalled that the country faced an al-Qaida insurgency for years and attacks from a local branch of the Islamic State group. Neither of the two groups has claimed the arrested suspects.
Meanwhile, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan condemned the attempted attack, adding that his country supports Saudi Arabia in fighting terrorism.
“This heinous crime exposes the extent of terrorism and the savagery of those terrorist groups, and no one in their right mind can justify or explain it,” he said in a statement.
The attempted attack came just in time for the Eid-al-Fitr holiday on Sunday. Usually, Saudi Arabia’s monarchs spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the holy city of Mecca. Fortunately, the attack was thwarted by security forces, which probably would’ve caused deadly havoc in the city.
The Grand Mosque houses the cube-shaped Kaaba, which is considered as Islam’s holiest site. Muslims pray facing the sacred site five times a day.
[Featured Image by Saudi Press Agency/AP Images]