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Suicide bombing near US consulate in Saudi: Report

AFP , Monday 4 Jul 2016
US Embassy attack
Saudi policemen stand guard at the site where a suicide bomber blew himself up in the early hours of July 4, 2016 near the American consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. (Photo: AFP)
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A suicide bomber blew himself up near the United States consulate in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah early Monday, reported the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities.

It said two security officers were hurt "as a result of the failed bombing" on July 4, the day when Americans celebrate their independence.

Security officers sealed off the area after "a person blew himself up in a car in front of the US consulate in Jeddah," the report said.

There was no immediate word on who was responsible, but since late 2014 Saudi Arabian security officers and minority Shias have been hit by deadly violence claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The incident happened just before the dawn prayers after which Muslims begin their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

American embassy officers could not be reached immediately, but the Saudi interior ministry said it would issue a statement.

In March last year the US embassy closed its main office, as well as consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran, for a few days over unspecified "security concerns".

In May this year, the interior ministry said four suspected militants died -- two by blowing themselves up -- during a raid in the kingdom's west.

One of the suspects was sought in connection with the suicide bombing of a mosque inside a Saudi special forces compound in the southwestern city of Abha last August. Fifteen people died.

He was also wanted over an October suicide blast that killed two at an Ismaili Shia mosque in the southern city of Najran, and the February shooting of a retired security officer in the Jazan region.

Another suspect killed in the May raid was wanted over suicide bombings at Shia mosques that killed 25 people in May and June last year in the kingdom's east.

Police said he was also involved in the November 2014 shooting of seven Shia worshippers, which began the series of attacks allegedly linked to IS group in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the IS group militants which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria, has reputedly called Saudi Arabia's Sunni rulers "apostate tyrants" and called on Saudis to rise against them.

The Sunni extremist IS group also considers Shias to be heretics.

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