Jeddah: A blast at a World War One remembrance ceremony in Jeddah wounded several people yesterday, France said, urging its citizens living in Saudi Arabia to exercise maximum vigilance following what it called an attack using an explosive device.
The explosion was the second security incident to take place in the Red Sea port city in the last couple of weeks, and the first attack with explosives in years to attempt to hit foreigners in the conservative kingdom.
France’s Foreign Ministry said the attack had taken place at a ceremony in Jeddah involving foreign embassies.
A Greek official said four people had been wounded.
“There was some sort of a blast at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah. There are four slightly injured, among them one Greek,” the Greek official told Reuters.
The Mecca governorate said the attack caused two injuries – a Greek consulate employee and a Saudi guard.
“The embassies that were involved in the commemoration ceremony condemn this cowardly attack, which is completely unjustified,” a French Foreign Ministry statement said.
“They call on the Saudi authorities to shed as much light as they can on this attack, and to identify and hunt down the perpetrators.”
A source with knowledge of the matter said the attack happened early yesterday when several diplomatic delegations from the European Union and other countries were present at a Remembrance Day event organised by the French Embassy.
The French consulate in Jeddah urged its nationals in Saudi Arabia to use “maximum vigilance” following the attack.
The French embassy in the UAE also called on residents there to stay vigilant.
“In particular, exercise discretion, stay away from all gatherings and be cautious when moving around,” said the statement, which was emailed to French residents in Jeddah.
The statement said only two people had been injured.
The embassies of France, Greece, Italy, the UK and the US said they had assured Saudi authorities they would support an investigation into the attack and its perpetrators.
A joint statement issued by the French, Greek, Italian, British and American embassies in Riyadh said, “Such attacks on innocent people are shameful and entirely without justification.
“We wish those who were injured a prompt recovery, and thank the brave Saudi first responders who assisted those at the scene. We pledge our support to the Saudi authorities as they investigate this attack and prosecute its perpetrators.”
Al Ekhbariya state TV said authorities secured the cemetery following the incident, and showed footage of the surrounding streets, adding that traffic was normal in the area and that the situation was stable.
On October 29, a Saudi man was arrested after attacking and wounding a security guard at the French consulate there.