Arrests made over Kuwait Shia mosque attack

Kuwait has arrested several people in connection with the suicide bombing of a Shia Muslim mosque on Friday that killed 27 people, according to a security source.

A mass funeral will be held on Saturday after the Gulf country’s worst militant attack in years, which has been claimed by Islamic State (Isis). More than 220 others were wounded in the al-Imam al-Sadiq mosque, the first attack on a Muslim place of worship in the emirate.

The interior ministry said an unspecified number of suspects were being questioned in connection with the attack, including the owner of the vehicle that took the bomber to the mosque. Officials were now looking for the driver of the Japanese-made car, who left the mosque immediately after the bombing.

Mosque authorities said that “Kuwait martyrs” will be laid to rest at the Shia cemetery, west of the capital. Saturday has been declared an official day of mourning. At the Grand Mosque, the largest place of worship for Sunni Muslims, worshippers were being encouraged to come to pay tribute to the dead in a show of solidarity.

Shias form a third of Kuwait’s 1.3 million native population, and Sunni groups have been quick to condemn the attack that Kuwait’s emir, the government, parliament and clerics have said was aimed at igniting sectarian tensions.

The nation’s leader, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, visiting the site of the bombing, said that the “criminal attack is a desperate and evil attempt targeting Kuwait’s national unity”.

A group in Saudi Arabia, calling itself Najd Province, which said it is affiliated with Isis, named Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid as the mosque bomber. The group said that the mosque had been promoting Shia Islam, which it considers to be heresy.

The statement on Twitter said the bomber had targeted a “temple of the apostates”. The same group had claimed responsibility for a pair of bombing attacks on Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.

The Kuwaiti justice, religious endowment and Islamic affairs minister, Yacoub al-Sanna, described the attack as a “terrorist and cowardly action which threatens our nation and works at tearing apart the national unity”.

Sanna told the official state agency Kuna that the government would take all necessary measures to ensure protection of houses of worship. “Kuwait was, and will remain, the oasis of security and safety to all components of the Kuwaiti society and sects,” he said.

Kuwait also has increased security to the highest level at state-run oil companies.

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