Saudi Prince vows ‘iron fist’ against extremists

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged on Thursday to strike extremists with an “iron fist”, after a bombing against a gathering of Western diplomats was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The bomb blast struck a World War I commemoration at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah on Wednesday, just two weeks after a guard at the French consulate in the Red Sea city was wounded by a knife-wielding Saudi citizen.

“We will continue to confront any extremist… behaviour and ideas,” Prince Mohammed said in an address to the Shura Council, the top government advisory body.

“We will continue to strike with an iron fist against all those who want to harm our security and stability,” he said, according to the transcript of his speech published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, warned those seeking to carry out extremist acts of a “painful and severe punishment”.

Wednesday’s attack in Jeddah left at least two people wounded, including a Greek policeman and a Saudi official.

A British citizen was also believed to have been wounded.

Diplomats from France, Greece, Italy, Britain and the United States (US) attended the Armistice Day commemoration ceremony in Jeddah, their embassies said.

The Islamic State group on Thursday claimed responsibility for the bombing.

A statement by IS’ propaganda arm Amaq said the attack “primarily targetted the French consul”.

The group offered no evidence of its involvement.

In a separate incident on Thursday, Dutch police arrested a man after multiple shots were fired at the Saudi Embassy in The Hague, causing damage but no injuries.

It was not clear whether the incident, which the Saudi government condemned as “cowardly”, was linked to the attacks in the kingdom.