Several wounded in WWI memorial attack at Jeddah cemetery for non-Muslims

Published November 11, 2020
The annual ceremony attended by European diplomats was the target of an IED attack, according to the French foreign ministry. — AFP/File
The annual ceremony attended by European diplomats was the target of an IED attack, according to the French foreign ministry. — AFP/File

Several people were wounded on Wednesday in a bomb attack at a World War I commemoration ceremony attended by European diplomats at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, France's foreign ministry said.

“The annual ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, attended by several consulates, including that of France, was the target of an IED attack this morning, which injured several people,” the ministry said.

“France strongly condemns this cowardly, unjustifiable attack.”

Hours after the attack, Saudi state media quoted a local official acknowledging the attack and saying that a Greek consulate employee and Saudi security man were lightly wounded in the incident. The Saudi official said an investigation is underway.

Saudi state television also broadcast from outside the cemetery and stressed that the security situation was now “stable”.

Last month, a Saudi citizen with a knife injured a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah on the same day that a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church in Nice in southern France.

Wednesday's blast came as French President Emmanuel Macron, the target of ire in much of the Muslim world for vowing to confront what he calls Islamist radicalism following a spate of attacks, attended a WWI memorial ceremony in Paris.

Several countries are marking the 102nd anniversary of the armistice signed by Germany and Allied countries to end the war.

Macron has vigorously defended the right to publish cartoons viewed as offensive by some, including caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The same cartoons were shown by French history teacher Samuel Paty to pupils in a class on free speech, leading to his beheading outside Paris on October 16 following an online campaign by parents angry over his choice of lesson material.

Macron's stance angered many Muslims, prompting protests in several countries at which portraits of the French president were burnt, and a campaign to boycott French products.

Saudi Arabia — home to Islam's holiest sites — has criticised the cartoons, but “strongly” condemned last month's attack in Nice.

On Tuesday, Macron hosted a summit of European leaders to plot a joint approach to combating Islamist radicalism after four people were killed in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna last week.

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