saudi arabia medina.jpg
Photo made available by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows the Prophet Mohammed Mosque with smoke rising in the background in the holy city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia, 04 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/SAUDI PRESS AGENCY

Four police officers were killed late Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the second most sacred site in the Islamic world, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

The attack, 24 hours before the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, was the third suicide bombing to hit Saudi Arabia on Monday.

At least one other bomber hit the mainly Shiite eastern city of Qatif at almost the same time, with parts of three bodies found at the scene, ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said.

A third attack early Monday near the US consulate in the western city of Jeddah killed only the bomber, the ministry said, with two police officers suffering minor injuries.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for any of the bombings, though the Islamic State extremist group has claimed previous deadly attacks in Qatif.

The Medina suicide bomber blew himself up when police became suspicious and confronted him in a car park adjoining the mosque, al-Turki said. Five police officers were wounded in the blast.

Saudi news site Sabq, which is seen as close to the authorities in the kingdom, earlier reported that the attacker targeted security officials as they ate the Iftar meal, which breaks the daily Ramadan fast.

Worshippers arrived in the mosque as usual for evening prayers after the attack, Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya reported.

The channel broadcast what it said was video of worshippers filling a hall inside the mosque.

There were conflicting reports of casualties in Qatif, the scene of a May 2015 Islamic State suicide bombing that killed 22 worshippers in a Shiite mosque.

Sabq reported that two suicide attackers blew themselves up after failing to gain entry to the city's Faraj al-Omran mosque. The Interior Ministry's al-Turki referred to one attacker but said that parts of three bodies had been found at the scene.

The Medina and Qatif attacks took place almost simultaneously, at the time of the breaking of the Ramadan fast on the second-last day of the Islamic holy month.

The Islamic State movement, which claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed at least 213 people Sunday in Baghdad, has repeatedly singled out the Saudi royal family for condemnation.

The Interior Ministry implied that it suspected jihadists, condemning "straying elements," its usual term for members of the Islamic State group or the rival al-Qaeda network.

Latest news

North Korean envoy to Malaysia: 'We cannot trust the investigation'

North Korea "cannot trust the investigation" by Malaysian police into the death last week of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, Pyongyang's ambassador to Malaysia said Monday.

Kim Dotcom loses latest round in extradition saga

German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has lost another legal round after the New Zealand High Court ruled that he and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the United States, but he said Monday his fight is far from over.

Thai monks clash with police on fifth day of high-profile temple raid

Several monks were injured early Monday in clashes with Thai police at a Buddhist temple where thousands of officers have been searching for a former abbot wanted on money laundering and land encroachment charges.

Cambodia passes bill easing requirements to abolish political parties

Cambodia's parliament passed a controversial bill on Monday allowing the government to abolish political parties whose members have been convicted of criminal charges, a senior opposition lawmaker has confirmed to dpa.

Former VP Moreno wins first round of Ecuador's presidential elections

Leftist former vice president Lenin Moreno has won the first round of presidential elections in Ecuador on Sunday, according to preliminary results released by the country's electoral authority.

Report: US and Russia supply over half of global arms

The United States and Russia supplied more than half of the world's arms over the past five years, a period that saw arms transfers reach their highest volume since the end of the Cold War, a Swedish-based research institute said Monday.

Messi's last minute penalty saves Barcelona from shock draw

Barcelona beat Leganes 2-1 with a last minute penalty from Lionel Messi in the Spanish first division on Sunday.

At least 30 injured after explosion in Bogota

A explosion in the Macarena area of Bogota injured at least 30 people on Sunday, many of them police officers who were guarding a bull running through the streets of the Colombian capital.

Vojvodina institutions hold conference on Bunjevci's non-Croat ethnic background

There are around 16,000 members of the Bunjevci community in Vojvodina who deny their Croat ethnic background. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council which enjoys the support of state authorities, and, since the change of government in Vojvodina, of the provincial authorities as well.

SpaceX rocket blasts off from historic launch pad en route to ISS

A commercial rocket built by SpaceX is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of research equipment, cargo and supplies, NASA said Sunday.

Defence deals worth 1.2 billion dollars announced at key UAE show

Deals worth nearly 4.4 billion dirhams (1.2 billion dollars) were reached at a major defence show that opened Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an official said.

Thousands protest in Malta against controversial press law reforms

Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Malta on Sunday, answering a call by the main opposition party to protest against what it described as a threat to democracy and freedom of expression.