Suicide bomber hits near US diplomatic site in Saudi Arabia
DUBAI: A suicide bomber carried out an attack early on Monday near a US diplomatic site in the western Saudi Arabian city of Jiddah, according to the Interior Ministry.
The ministry said the attacker detonated his suicide vest when security guards approached him near the parking lot of a hospital. The attacker died and two security men were lightly wounded, according to the ministry statement, which was published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Some cars in the parking lot were damaged.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki was quoted in the statement as saying the guards noticed the man was acting suspiciously at an intersection on the corner of the heavily fortified US Consulate in Jiddah, near the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital.
Most of the consulate's staff had reportedly moved offices to a new location.
The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia confirmed there were no casualties or injuries among the consular staff. The embassy said it remains in contact with Saudi authorities as they investigate.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for attack.
The Interior Ministry did not say whether the bomber intended to target the US diplomatic compound, adding that an investigation is underway to determine his identity.
A 2004 al-Qaida-linked militant attack on the US Consulate in Jiddah killed five locally hired consular employees and four gunmen. The three-hour battle on the compound came amid a wave of al-Qaida attacks targeting Westerners and Saudi security posts.
More recently, Saudi Arabia has been a target of Islamic State attacks that have killed dozens of people. The extremist Sunni group views the Western-allied Saudi monarchy and government as heretics. Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria.
In June, the Interior Ministry reported 26 terror attacks in the kingdom in the last two years. IS affiliates have targeted minority Shiites and security officials.
Monday's attack came just days before the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which observant Muslims fast daily from dawn to dusk.
The US Embassy regularly issues advisory messages for US citizens in Saudi Arabia. In a message issued Sunday and another one issued after the attack Monday, the embassy urged Americans to "remain aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country." It also advised citizens to "carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia."