A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shiite mosque in Najran in southern Saudi Arabia on Monday, killing at least one person and wounding several others, the Saudi interior ministry said.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on social media platform Twitter.
The ministry’s first official word on the attack, carried by the official SPA news agency and Al Arabiya television, followed earlier media reports that three people had died in the blast.
The attack on the al-Mashhad mosque, attended by followers of the Ismaili Shiite branch of Islam, occurred during evening prayers, an interior ministry spokesperson told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya.
“As the Magreb prayer ended and the worshippers came out of the main door, a man entered the mosque and blew himself up,” Mohammed al-Askar, a doctor from Najran told Reuters, adding that it was the first time a Shiite Ismaili mosque had been targeted.
Ismaili Shiites are a majority in the Najran area but a minority in mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom has been hit by a spate of deadly shooting and bomb attacks, many of them laid at the door of Islamic State. The militant group is bitterly opposed to Gulf Arab rulers and is seen as trying to stir up sectarian confrontation on the Arabian peninsula to bring about the overthrow of the ruling dynasties.
It has urged young Saudi Sunnis to attack targets including Shiites.
In mid-October, five people were killed after a gunman opened fire on a Shiite Muslim meeting hall in the Eastern city of Saihat.
In August, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in an attack on a mosque used by members of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia, an assault that an online statement said was carried out by Islamic State.
Another bombing claimed by Islamic State on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait in June killed 27 people.
“Tonight in Najran the hospitals are crowded and people are coming from all over Najran to donate blood,” said al-Askar.
“Unfortunately for Saudi I think the Islamic State is going to repeat such treacherous acts. It is a ploy to gain attention. But people are helping each other and they have trust in their government.”