Suicide attack kills senior Saudi officer
RIYADH // A brigadier general was killed in a suicide attack near Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq on Monday, according to the country’s interior ministry.
Oud Awad Al Balawi died along with at least two other soldiers in the attack, carried out by militants who crossed over the border from Iraq. At least three other members of their border security patrol were wounded.
The UAE’s Minister of Interior, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, condemned the bombing in a statement.
It was the first deadly attack along Saudi Arabia’s 1,200-kilometer border with Iraq since the kingdom joined the US-led coalition conducting airstrikes against ISIL militants in Syria. ISIL controls about a third of both Syria and Iraq.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Saudi interior ministry spokesman Mansour Al Turki said four “terrorists” had fired on the patrol at around 4:30am in the Northern Borders Province.
The interior ministry said the guards returned fire, killing two attackers. The other two tried to flee and hide, the ministry said. When security forces approached them, one of the attackers detonated his explosives belt and blew himself up. The fourth was shot dead by security forces.
The government-linked Sabq news website reported that the gunmen were armed with hand grenades, pistols and explosive belts.
Residents in the area said that Saudi military aircraft could be seen overhead throughout the day.
In November, the kingdom ordered residents living near the Iraqi border to relocate for at least a year to widen the buffer zone to 20 kilometres. The order also included widening buffer zones in the Eastern Province border city of Hafr Al Batin, near Kuwait and Iraq, and Tabuk Province, near Jordan.
The decision was announced around the same time that ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi called on supporters to launch attacks inside Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the airstrikes.
Despite the ISIL threat a delegation of Saudi officials visited Iraq on Sunday and Monday to make preparations to reopen an embassy in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia has not had an embassy in Iraq since 1990.
* Associated Press
Updated: January 5, 2015 04:00 AM