Four men were killed Sunday in an attack on a Saudi security services base north of the capital Riyadh, official media said, as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the assault.
Quoting a spokesman for the state security services, the Saudi Press Agency said three policemen were also wounded in the morning attack in the Zulfi province north of Riyadh. It said a “group of terrorists” tried to “storm the building” but security authorities repelled them, killing four.
The Sunni extremist group has claimed previous attacks in Saudi Arabia, targeting mostly security forces and members of the Shiite community who they view as heretics.
An investigation was launched to identify the assailants as well as the type of “explosive material” they had in their possession, SPA said. The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper earlier reported that the attack targeted state security forces in the town of Zulfi, 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of the capital.
It said the attackers had rammed a vehicle into a security barrier around the base in an attempt to gain entry. Two gunmen then stepped out of the vehicle and opened fire, sparking a gun battle with police, who killed them, the paper reported.
A third was gunned down as he attempted to flee while a fourth died as he tried to set off an explosive belt, the paper said. The Saudi-owned satellite channel Al-Arabiya also reported four people died during an attack, but gave no details.
IS, in a statement carried by its propaganda arm Amaq, said “the attack on the security services base in the town of Zulfi northwest of Riyadh was carried out by Islamic State group fighters”. It gave no further details.
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper earlier reported that the attack targeted state security forces in the town of Zulfi, 260 kilometres north of the capital.
The kingdom has seen numerous attacks in recent years by jihadists, including Al-Qaeda and IS, against security forces. It has also seen clashes between Shiite militants and security forces in the eastern provinces.
IS’ elusive supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had in recent years called for attacks on Saudi Arabia, which is part of a US-led coalition that has been battling the jihadists in Syria and Iraq since 2014. The Sunni extremist group has claimed previous attacks in Saudi Arabia, targeting mostly security forces and members of the Shiite community who they view as heretics.
On April 7, two men armed with explosives were killed and two others arrested as they attacked a security checkpoint in a predominantly Shiite region in eastern Saudi Arabia, which has seen years of demonstrations against the Sunni royal family.
Sunday’s attack took place in a majority Sunni region. An estimated 10-15 percent of the ultra-conservative kingdom’s 32 million population are Shiite, although no official figures exist.