Four people were killed Monday in a suicide bombing near the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second-holiest site after Mecca, in the Saudi city of Medina. There were also bombings in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Qatif.
The Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid an-Nabawī) was built by Muhammad and is where he is buried—militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, who also serves as the Saudi interior minister, visited those injured in the Jeddah bombing.
“I know that terrorist operations are not a simple thing, and the minor impacts that you feel now will go away, God willing,” Prince Mohammed said, according to Reuters. “I had been through this in the past and feel what you feel.” The crown prince, who is credited with ending am al Qaeda bombing campaign in Saudi between 2003 and 2006, survived a suicide bombing in his office in 2009.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the Islamic State—whose spokesman, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, urged supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks during Ramadan—is widely considered the primary suspect. “It’s an attempt to actually embarrass the Saudi government, because it boasts of protecting the pilgrims and the holy places,” Middle East expert Madhawi al-Rasheed told Agence France-Presse. The trifecta of bombings seems indicative of an “organised effort by the perpetrators to coordinate their work,” she continued.
The Saudi Interior Ministry identified the man behind the Jeddah bombing as 34-year-old Abdullah Qalzar Khan, a Pakistani man who had been living in the kingdom for over a decade. In a statement, the ministry said Khan lived in the Jeddah, a port city, “with his wife and her parents.” The Associated Press reports:
In that attack, the bomber detonated his explosives after two security guards approached him, killing himself and lightly wounding the two guards, the Interior Ministry said. No consular staff were hurt.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said authorities in Islamabad were working to get more details about the man. He condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom valued the contributions of Pakistani guest workers.
“Terrorism is a global phenomenon and is not country- or people-specific,” Zakaria said.
The attacks drew condemnation from governments across the Middle East, AFP reports, and across Islam’s theological divide. “This crime, which causes goosebumps, could not have been perpetrated by someone who had an atom of belief in his heart,” the Grand Mufti, Abdullah al-Sheikh, said.
“There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. “Sunnis, Shiites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one.”