Kuwait arrests suspects in mosque attack, mourns dead

2015-06-27 15:40
Kuwaiti emergency personnel pull a man on stretchers past security forces outside the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers in Kuwait City. (AFP)

Kuwaiti emergency personnel pull a man on stretchers past security forces outside the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers in Kuwait City. (AFP)

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Kuwait - Kuwait's interior ministry said on Saturday it had detained amongst others the owner of a vehicle which a suicide bomber used to get to a Shi'ite Muslim mosque where he blew himself up, killing 27 and wounding 200 people mid-prayer.

Militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the country's worst militant attack on Friday, one of three attacks on three continents that day apparently 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.

The interior ministry said it was now looking for the driver who vanished shortly after Friday's blast in Kuwait, which has been spared the rampant violence in neighbouring Iraq and recent spate of Islamic State bombings of Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia, another neighbour.

A security source told Reuters "numerous arrests" had been made in connection with Friday's bombing, which government officials said was intended to stir enmity between Kuwait's Sunni majority and Shi'ite minority.

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, who will be buried in the Shi'ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq.

A mass funeral for most of those killed will be held at Kuwait City's Grand Mosque later on Saturday, KUNA reported. A day of national mourning has been declared.

Oil security stepped up

Shi'ites are between 15% and 30% of the population of Kuwait, a mostly Sunni country where members of both communities live side by side with little apparent friction.

"We will cut the evil hand that interferes with our homeland's security," Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed al Khaled al Sabah was quoted as saying by KUNA.

Kuwait has stepped up security to the highest level at state-run oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and its affiliates, KUNA also reported.

Islamic State named the bomber as Abu Suleiman al-Muwahed and said on social media that he had targeted a "temple of the apostates" - a term the group uses to refer to Shi'ites, whom it regards as heretics.

Islamic State had urged its followers on Tuesday to step up attacks during the Ramadan fasting month against Christians, Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims fighting with a US-led coalition against the ultra-hardline jihadist group.

There was no evidence Friday's three attacks were deliberately coordinated. But coming so close together, they underscored the far-reaching, fast-growing influence of Islamic State, Western politicians said.

Read more on:    isis  |  kuwait

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