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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it had foiled a plot to bomb its defence ministry’s headquarters by the militant Islamic State (IS) group. The country said it had also arrested several people suspected of carrying out espionage in the kingdom on behalf of foreign powers.

It was not immediately clear whether the two announcements, made separately by a security official to state news agency SPA and a security source speaking to Reuters, were related.

The would-be bombers were identified as two Yemeni nationals living under aliases in the kingdom who were detained along with two Saudi citizens also suspected of being involved in the planned attack in Riyadh, the official from the Presidency of State Security added.

Saudi Arabia has previously been hit by deadly bombing and shooting attacks by IS militants targeting security forces and Shias.

The assailants were training in the use of explosive belts, the security source added, while authorities said they seized grenades and firearms during the operation to foil the attack.

In a separate news item, SPA quoted a security source as saying that authorities uncovered “intelligence activities for the benefit of foreign parties” by a group of people it did not name.

A security source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the suspects were accused of carrying out “espionage activities and having contacts with external entities, including the Muslim Brotherhood”.

“The group is also accused of having contacts with and receiving financial and other forms of support from two other countries to harm the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the aim of destabilising the security and national unity in preparation to overthrow the Saudi regime in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood,” the source said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, the source declined to name the countries or the members of the group.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017