Outrage Over Targeting of Masjid-i-Nabvi

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SRINAGAR: Outrage spread on Tuesday after a deadly suicide bombing at Masjid-i-Nabvi in the  holy city of Medinah, one of three attacks in the Saudi kingdom on a single day.

Ordinary Muslims were appalled while religious and political leaders denounced the attack which came as Muslims prepared for the feast marking the end of the holy month Ramazan.

There were no claims of responsibility for Monday’s bombings in Medinah, Jeddah and the eastern city of Qatif, but the Islamic State (ISIS) group had urged its supporters to carry out attacks during Ramazan.

Saudi interior ministry said security forces became suspicious of the bomber when he was heading for the Prophet’s Mosque through a parking lot. “As they tried to stop him, he blew himself up with an explosive belt causing his death and the death of four security personnel,” an official statement said, adding five others were injured.

Cairo-based Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, condemned the attacks and stressed “the sanctity of the houses of God, especially the Prophet’s Mosque”.

The head of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, the kingdom’s main advisory body, said the attack was “unprecedented”. Abdullah al-Sheikh said:”This crime, which causes goosebumps, could not have been perpetrated by someone who had an atom of belief in his heart.”

Iran condemned the bombings and called for Muslim unity against extremists.

“There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross. Sunnis, Shiites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter.

Worshippers gathered in the holy city expressed shock such a prominent holy site could be targeted.

“That’s not an act that represents Islam,” said Altayeb Osama, a 25-year old Sudanese visitor to Medinah who heard two large booms about a minute apart as he was heading toward the mosque for sunset prayers. “People never imagined that this could happen here.”

Ziyaad Patel, 36, from Johannesburg, South Africa, was at the mosque when he heard a blast just as people were breaking their fast with dates. Many at first thought it was the sound of traditional, celebratory cannon fire, he said.

“I actually felt the ground shake,” he said. “The vibrations were very strong. … It sounded like a building imploded.”

Three suicide bombers struck across Saudi Arabia in a single day, first targeting two Shia mosques in oil rich Eastern province of Qatif then port city of Jeddah followed by  a shocking attack at Islam’s second holiest site, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, where four security guards were killed.

“In the war against terrorism, the Muslim world has endured several suicide blasts and attacks until today. But, the attack that stuck the grand mosque in Madinah on Monday, is not just any other attack. It is attack on the second holiest site of Islam deeply revered by Muslim Ummah”, said Kashmiri physician Syed Riyaz Ahmad from Dubai.

Monday’s attacks on Islam’s spiritual home came as Muslims prepared for the feast marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramzan.

There were no claims of responsibility but the Islamic State had urged its supporters to carry out attacks during the holy month and has claimed or been blamed for a wave of Ramzan shootings and bombings, including in Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka and Baghdad.

Media reports identified the bomber in Medina as 18-year-old Umer Abdul Hadi, who was wanted by the Saudi government on terror charges. The Saudi interior ministry said the bombing in Jeddah was carried out by 34-year-old Pakistani national Abdullah Gulzar Khan.

The sprawling mosque where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is buried is visited by millions of Muslims from around the world each year during pilgrimages to Makkah.

For last two years Saudi Arabia has been a target of ISIS attacks that have killed dozens of people. 

ISIS previously claimed attacks on Shia mosques, including a suicide bombing on a mosque in Qatif in May 2015 that killed 21 people.

Condemning the Medinah attack, Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said the crimes should prompt countries supporting terrorism to reconsider their policies.

“The spread of takfiri crimes should prompt states, governments and international and regional organizations to review their stances from terrorism and from the provision of arms, money and political and media support [for terrorist groups] along with covering and justifying their crimes,” a Hezbollah statement said.

“Particularly that it turned out that some powers supporting it [terrorism] have become one of its major victims.”

Hezbollah said the attack near one of Islam’s holiest sites in the final days of the holy month of Ramazan was another sign “of how these terrorists disregard all that is sacred to Muslims and all that which they agreed to respect.”

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