RIYADH: A suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayers at a mosque used by Shia Muslims in eastern Saudi Arabia, residents said, killing at least 20 worshippers and wounding nearly 100 people.
The interior ministry said the explosion hit the Imam Ali mosque in the village of Al Qadeeh in the Shia-majority Qatif region.
One witness described a huge explosion to Reuters, estimating at least 100 casualties in the attack, where more than 300 people were praying.
However, an activist told AFP that at least 20 worshippers were killed and others wounded.
We were doing the first part of the prayers when we heard the blast, Kamal Jaafar Hassan, one worshipper, told Reuters by telephone from the scene.
The Saudi state news agency confirmed an explosion had occurred at a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Pictures posted on social media showed bloodied victims being taken away on stretchers.
An activist said Qatif hospital issued an urgent call for blood donations after the attack and called in off-duty staff to cope with the high number of casualties.
Most of Saudi Arabia’s Shia community live in the oil rich east, where they have long complained of marginalisation in the kingdom.
Last November, gunmen killed seven Shia, including children, in the eastern town of Al-Dalwa during the Ashura ceremony marking the martyrdom anniversary of Shia hero Imam Hussain.
Four men carried out the attack after killing a man from a neighbouring village and stealing his car to use in the shootings, the interior ministry said.
Last month, the interior ministry said it had dismantled a 65-strong cell with suspected links to the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria that was implicated in a plot to incite sectarian sedition through similar attacks.
Since 2011, pro-democracy protests have been a regular feature in Shia-majority areas, leaving about 20 Shia youths dead.
Blasts hit Yemen mosques
At least 13 people, including three children, have been injured in a couple bomb explosions hitting two Yemeni mosques, amid ongoing Saudi military invasion against the impoverished country.
The injuries came after a bomb went off at a Shia mosque, named al-Sayyah, in the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa on Friday, the Akhbar al-Yemen television channel reported.
Reports say the ISIS group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The ISIS, who are mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, have conducted many gruesome acts in the two countries.
Meanwhile, another bomb blast ripped through the Al-Ehsan Mosque in the al-Damghah district of Yemens southwestern province of Taizz, the Yemeni al-Masirah TV network reported. There have been no reports of casualties so far.
Amid attacks by ISIS on civilians, Saudi warplanes carried out six airstrikes on the Harad district in Yemens northwestern province of Hajja on Friday, according to latest reports.
Saudi Arabia started its military campaign against Yemen on March 26, without a UN mandate, in a bid to undermine Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a close ally of Riyadh.
The United Nations says, since March 19, over 1,800 people have been killed and 7,330 wounded as a result of the conflict in Yemen.
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