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Pakistani man carried out bombing near US consulate in Jeddah: Saudi ministry

Updated July 05, 2016

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A damaged car is seen after a blast near the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia July 4, 2016.— Reuters
A damaged car is seen after a blast near the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia July 4, 2016.— Reuters

RIYADH: A suicide bomber who blew himself up near the United States consulate in Jeddah early Monday has been identified as a Pakistani citizen, the Saudi interior ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry identified the man as 35-year-old Abdullah Gulzar Khan, who worked as a driver in the kingdom.

Khan had been living with his wife and her parents in Jeddah for 12 years, the interior ministry said in a tweet.

Early on Monday, security officers became suspicious of a man near the parking lot of Dr Suleiman Faqeeh Hospital in Jeddah, which is directly across from the US diplomatic mission.

When they moved in to investigate “he blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking”. Two security officers were lightly injured in the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki had told state Al-Ekhbaria news channel that the bomber was closer to a mosque in the area than to the consulate.

The ministry said in the statement published on the official SPA news agency that the bomber's explosive belt had “partially” exploded.

The US embassy in Riyadh reported no injuries among the consulate staff.

A picture carried by the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities, showed a large body part lying on the ground between a taxi and the open door of another car that was peppered with holes. The attack coincided with the US July 4 Independence Day holiday.

Gen Raheel condemns Saudi attacks

Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Tuesday called Saudi Defence Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman over phone and condemned terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia.

An Inter-Services Public Relations communique said the army cheif sympathised with the families of attack victims, adding, "We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Saudi brothers in fighting the menace of terrorism."

Multiple attacks

The bombing in Jeddah was the first of three attacks to have hit the kingdom on the same day.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombings one of which, at the Masjid-i-Nabawi (PBUH) in Madina, left four members of the security forces dead and others wounded.

Since late 2014 Saudi Arabia has been hit by bombings and shootings claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group but multiple attacks on the same day are unusual.

The Prophet's Mosque, in the west of the kingdom, is one of Islam's holiest sites — where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is buried and which attracts millions of visitors each year.

The Prophet's Mosque is particularly crowded during Ramazan, which is supposed to be a time of charity but has seen spectacular attacks around the region.

Undeterred by the blast at the sprawling Madina mosque complex, thousands of worshippers performed prayers on Monday night, live Saudi television showed.

Extremists from IS claimed, or were blamed for, a suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday that killed more than 200 people as well as attacks in Bangladesh Friday night and at Istanbul's Ataturk airport last week.

Monday's bombings in Madina and near a Shia mosque in Qatif took place simultaneously.