Mecca – Saudi authorities thwarted on Friday a terrorist attack against Mecca’s Grand Mosque, its Umrah pilgrims and worshipers, on the last night of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Security forces had surrounded a would-be suicide bomber only kilometers away from the mosque “where he was to carry out his terrorist attack,” said a security source.
The security forces also raided two other locations, arresting five suspects, including a woman.
A spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, Mansour al-Turki, announced that the terrorist group was stationed in two areas in Mecca. The first was situated in al-Asaila neighborhood and the other in al-Masafy neighborhood, which is near the central area of the Grand Mosque. A third group was located in the Jeddah district.
The suicide bomber was staying at a three-storey house in the Ajyad neighborhood.
He opened fire at the security forces as soon as he became surrounded by them, prompting them to retaliate by shooting back after he refused to comply with their demands for him to turn himself in, said Turki.
The suspect continued on shooting before he blew himself up, which resulted in the collapse of the building. Six pilgrims were wounded in the blast, as well as five security forces members, who suffered light wounds.
The Interior Ministry spokesman added that the security agencies are still carrying out their investigations into the attack.
The Ministry condemned the terrorist plot, saying: “Through the grace of God and the unprecedented support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, it will be capable of confronting these criminal plans and all those involved in them.”
Asharq Al-Awsat obtained information from informed sources that the terrorists had rented the three-storey house during Ramadan. They kept to themselves and limited their movements to an extent that their neighbors hardly knew that they were there.