A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shi’ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers, killing around 20 people and wounding more than 70 others.
A photograph posted on social media showed the mutilated body of a young man, said to be the bomber.
He was named as Abu Ali al-Zahrani and pictured by Islamic State supporters online.
Other pictures showed ambulances and bloodied victims being taken away on stretchers.
A local activist, Naseema al-Sada, said the bomber targeted worshippers as they were commemorating the birth of Imam Hussain, a revered figure among Shi’ites.
The Saudi Interior Ministry, calling the attack an act of terrorism, said the bomber detonated a suicide belt hidden under his clothes, causing a number of people to be ‘martyred or wounded.’
“We were doing the first part of the prayers when we heard the blast,” a worshipper, Kamal Jaafar Hassan, told Reuters by telephone from the scene.
Qatif hospital issued an urgent call for blood donations and called in off-duty staff to cope with the high number of casualties, the activist said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, the first to target Shi’ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia since November when gunmen killed at least eight people in an attack on a Shi’ite religious anniversary celebration.
A hospital official told Reuters by telephone that ‘around 20 people’ were killed in the attack and more than 50 were under treatment at the hospital, some of them suffering from serious injuries.
He said that a number of other people had been treated and sent home.
In April, Saudi Arabia said it was on high alert for a possible attacks on oil installations or shopping malls.
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