Two injured in Jeddah blast targeting WWI remembrance event at cemetery
Two people were injured in an attack targeting Wednesday's World War I remembrance ceremony attended by staffers from foreign diplomatic missions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.Posted — Updated
A Greek consulate worker and a Saudi security guard were wounded when an explosive device went off during the annual event at the city's non-Muslim cemetery, according to a report by the state news agency SPA quoting Sultan al-Dossari, the spokesperson for the Mecca region.
"Security forces attended to an incident of a cowardly attack while the French consul was attending an event in the province of Jeddah resulting in the injury of a Greek consulate employee and a Saudi security man, with two minor injuries," the news agency reported.
According to a statement from the French Foreign Ministry, staff from several foreign consulates, including the French one, attended the ceremony.
"The consul general was making his speech, we heard this explosion and at the beginning we didn't really understand what had happened," Nadia Chaaya, an adviser to French citizens abroad who witnessed the attack, told CNN affiliate BFMTV on Wednesday.
"We understood we were the target because we saw smoke. There was panic and we were worried there would be a second explosion so we ran out into the street," Chaaya added.
The blast was the second attack involving the French diplomatic mission in Jeddah in just two weeks. A Saudi man was arrested on October 29 after attacking a guard at the French consulate with a sharp tool, Saudi state media said.
The French Foreign Ministry said the attack was "cowardly" and "unjustifiable" and called on the Saudi authorities to investigate the incident and prosecute the perpetrators. Al-Dossari was quoted by SPA as saying the investigation has started.
Anger against France and its President Emmanuel Macron has grown in parts of the Muslim world after he publicly defended cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which are considered blasphemous in Islam.
Macron's remarks came in the wake of the beheading of Samuel Paty, a school teacher who was killed by a Chechen teenager after he showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a class on freedom of expression.
Macron said that France would not "give up" the caricatures and pledged to tackle extreme Islamism in the country, sparking demonstrations and triggering boycotts in Muslim-majority countries.
Saudi Arabia has condemned the publication of "offensive" cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed but has stopped short of calling for action against France.
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