Worshippers at the Dammam Shiite mosque say the bomber was dressed as a woman
Dubai, Manama: The prayer leader at the Imam Hussain mosque in the Al Anood district of the Saudi city of Dammam was condemning last Friday’s attack on another Saudi mosque when a loud explosion was heard, a worshipper at the mosque said.
“During his Friday sermon, the imam was questioning how a person can blow himself up at a mosque full of worshippers when we heard a loud scream from one of the doors of the mosque.
“Five seconds after the door opened, we heard a loud explosion and smoke started entering the mosque,” a worshipper who asked to be identified as Maitham told Gulf News over the phone from Dammam.
Maitham was praying close to the gate overlooking the parking lot where the explosion took place. The imam was discussing the attack on a Shiite mosque in the town of Qadeeh in the Eastern Province last Friday that killed 22 people.
The attacks shook Saudi Arabia, leading to widespread condemnation and a pledge by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Daesh claims attack
The attack was claimed by the Daesh terror group, as was the attack on May 22.
In amateur video footage of the sermon, the imam can be heard talking about the Qadeeh attack, following which an explosion can be heard from the left side of the mosque.
Maitham said that panic ensued in the mosque and people rushed outside to see what had happened. The imam then cancelled the sermon and called for calm.
“When I went to see what was happening I saw a small child and there was so much blood on his clothes, as if someone had spilt red ink on him. He was probably close to the site of the bomber”.
Ali Jaafar, another eyewitness, said that the explosion set several cars on fire.
“It was big and loud,” he said, adding, “the whole thing was very disturbing.”
A third witness, who did not want to be named because of security concerns, said he saw the remains of the victim in the parking lot.
Maitham said that there was tension about Friday prayers in Shiite mosques after last week’s attack, but added that there was a heavy security presence around the mosque. The Imam Hussain mosque in Dammam is one of the city’s biggest Shiite mosques.
“After last week’s attack, I had already been worried about going to today’s prayers,” said Maitham. “Friday prayers will never be the same”.
Maitham said that the mosque authorities had announced earlier the closure of the area surrounding the mosque as well as the section dedicated for female worshippers.
The Saudi ministry of interior has said that the suicide bomber was a man disguised as a woman.
A spokesperson for the interior ministry said that the security authorities succeeded to foil the attempt by the bomber to blow himself up inside Al Anood Mosque where he would have killed several worshippers congregating for the Friday prayers.
“Security policemen had suspicions when they saw a car heading towards the car park near the mosque,” the spokesperson said, quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “When the security men went towards the driver, the car exploded killing four people, including the driver. Several cars were damaged in the explosion,” the spokesperson said.
Maitham said that eyewitnesses saw someone dressed as a veiled woman approaching the men’s entrance to the mosque. “She did not approach the women’s entrance, which was closed anyway, and that is what led to suspicion”.