Suicide bombing near US consulate in Saudi leaves two wounded

JEDDAH: A suicide bomber blew himself up early Monday near the American consulate in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah, 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.

Most of the consulate’s staff had reportedly moved offices to a new location.

US Embassy officials in Saudi Arabia and Interior Ministry officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

A State Department spokesperson, who was not authorised to be named and spoke on condition of anonymity, said US officials are aware of reports of an explosion in Jeddah and are working with Saudi authorities to collect more information.

A 2004 Al Qaeda-linked militant attack on the US consulate in Jeddah killed five locally hired consular employees and four gunmen.

The three-hour battle on the heavily guarded compound came amid a wave of Al Qaeda attacks targeting Westerners and Saudi security posts.

More recently, Saudi Arabia has been a target of the militant Islamic State (IS) group attacks that have killed dozens of people. The extremist 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 had taken place in the kingdom in the last two years. Local affiliates of IS have targeted minority Shias and security officials.

The attack comes just days before the end of the holy month of Ramazan, in which observant Muslims fast daily from dawn to dusk.

The US Embassy in Riyadh regularly issues advisory messages for US citizens in Saudi Arabia. On Sunday, the embassy issued a message reminding anyone taking part in religious rituals or other public events to be aware of their surroundings. The message 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”. Agencies