Kuwait bids tearful adieu to Friday blast victims

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KUWAIT CITY— Thousands of people in Kuwait took part in a mass funeral procession Saturday for 27 people killed in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shia Muslim mosque a day earlier.

Police in Kuwait said they are interrogating a number of suspects with possible links to the suicide bombing, which was claimed by an affiliate of the ISIS rebel group.

An Interior Ministry statement Saturday said police arrested the owner of the car that was used by the bomber to drive to the Imam Jaffar al Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City, where he detonated his device among worshippers when they knelt in special Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. 

The bombing, which also wounded more than 200 worshippers was the first terrorist attack in Kuwait in more than two decades.

The government helped plan Saturday’s mass funeral for those killed. Thousands of Sunnis and Shias from across the country took part in the procession and prayer at Kuwait’s Grand Mosque. Many carried the Kuwaiti flag; others a simple black flag to signify mourning. Some in the crowd chanted, “Sunnis and Shias are brothers!” “The martyrs are the beloved of God” and “Down with Daesh! Down with Daesh”, an acronym for Islamic State.

Sunni groups in Kuwait and leaders from across the Middle East have strongly condemned the attack, which Gulf officials say is aimed at provoking a backlash from Shias and sparking sectarian war. More than a third of Kuwait’s 1.2 million citizens are Shia. 

Rebel group Islamic State fighting to topple Syrian and Iraqi governments claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing against 2,000 worshippers praying at the mosque on Friday, one of three attacks on three continents that day linked to hardline Islamists.

In Tunisia, a gunman killed 37 people including Western tourists on a beach, and in France a decapitated body was found after an attacker rammed his car into a gas container, triggering an explosion.

One group of mourners said they had traveled from Qatif in Saudi Arabia where 21 people were killed by an Islamic State suicide bombing in May.

Two Iranian nationals were among those killed, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by Iranian state media on Saturday.

Relatives of seven of those killed wept and prayed over their shrouded corpses at a mosque on Saturday, where they were waiting to be taken to the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq for burial.

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hamad Al-Sabah was quoted in the official Kuwait News Agency describing the bombing as “grotesque” and vowing to “cut the evil hand” that tampers with the country’s security.

The news agency also carried a statement from Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, extending his condolences to the families of the victims.

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