At least 10 security officers were killed Thursday after a suicide bombing targeted a mosque used by the special forces south of Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
The state television El-Ikhbariya said the explosion took place as worshippers were praying at a mosque used by Saudi special forces in Abha, describing it as a “terrorist” attack.
The broadcaster said at least 17 people were killed, however, an interior ministry spokesman gave a slightly lower toll of “more than 13” dead.
The victims were members of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, the spokesman told AFP.
“It’s confirmed there’s an explosion and there’s more than 13 (killed)… in a mosque,” the spokesman said.
The explosion happened at the headquarters of the SWAT team, which is tasked with domestic security, he added.
A Saudi Interior Ministry official, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, says that the mosque belongs to an Interior Ministry emergency services’ post in Abha. The official could not immediately confirm if the mosque was part of an Interior Ministry compound.
In July, Saudi Arabia arrested 431 people as part of a crackdown on a cluster of cells linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.
It is not the first time a mosque is targeted in Saudi Arabia. ISIS claimed responsibility for the May explosion at a Shiite mosque in al-Qadeeh village east of Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers, which killed 20 people. ISIS was behind a bombing in al-Qadeeh in Qatif province, which also targeted Shiites to stir sectarian strife in the country.