DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A suicide bomber carried out an attack early Monday near a U.S. diplomatic site in the Red Sea city of Jiddah, according to state-linked Saudi news sites.
Okaz news website said the bomber died in the attack, and that no other deaths were immediately reported. The bomber was apparently headed in a car toward a mosque and hospital that are near the U.S. consulate in Jiddah. Most of the consulate’s staff had reportedly moved offices to a new location.
Sabq news website reported that two security guards were wounded in the bombing.
U.S. Embassy officials in Saudi Arabia and Interior Ministry officials could not be immediately reached for comment. A State Department spokesperson, who was not authorized to be named and spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. officials are aware of reports of an explosion in Jiddah and are working with Saudi authorities to collect more information.
A 2004 al-Qaida-linked militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Jiddah killed five locally hired consular employees and four gunmen. The three-hour battle on the heavily guarded compound came amid a wave of al-Qaida attacks targeting Westerners and Saudi security posts.
More recently, Saudi Arabia has been a target of Islamic State group attacks that have killed dozens of people. The extremist group views the Western-allied Saudi monarchy and government as heretics. Saudi Arabia is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
In June, the Interior Ministry reported 26 terror attacks had taken place in the kingdom in the last two years. Local affiliates of the IS group have targeted minority Shiites and security officials.
The attack comes just days before the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in which observant Muslims fast daily from dawn to dusk.
The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh regularly issues advisory messages for U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia. On Sunday, the embassy issued a message reminding anyone taking part in religious rituals or other public events to be aware of their surroundings. The message urged Americans to “remain aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country.” It also advised citizens to “carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.”
Associated Press writer Douglass Daniel contributed to this report from Washington.