Kuwait says in "state of war," warns of other militant cells

Kuwaiti mourners queue to be searched by security members outside the Sunni Grand Mosque on June 27, 2015 as they arrive to give their condolences to the families of the victims of a suicide bombing which took place at the Shiite al-Imam al-Sadeq mos
Kuwaiti mourners queue to be searched by security members outside the Sunni Grand Mosque on June 27, 2015 as they arrive to give their condolences to the families of the victims of a suicide bombing which took place at the Shiite al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque the previous day, in Kuwait City. PHOTO: AFP

KUWAIT (REUTERS) - Kuwait's interior minister said on Tuesday the country was at war with militants and would strike out at cells believed to be in the country.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Friday by a Saudi citizen on a Shi'ite Muslim mosque in Kuwait City which killed 27 worshippers.

"We are in a state of war. It's a war that had been decided with this cell. But there are other cells, and we will not wait for them to try their luck with us," Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah told parliament.

Kuwait has detained 60 people and closed a local charity for alleged violations in raising funds for Syrians, local media said Tuesday, as part of a crackdown on suspected militant links after the Gulf Arab state's worst ever suicide bombing.

Kuwaiti officials said Friday's attack was aimed at stirring up sectarian strife in the majority Sunni Muslim state. Arabic-language Al-Qabas newspaper quoted security sources in the major oil exporting state as saying that 60 people, including Kuwaiti citizens and nationals of other Gulf states, were being held for investigation by security services.

Some had been found to have been in contact with Sunni Islamist militants with others suspected of belonging to"extremist" groups, Al-Qabas reported, without elaborating.

It also said that five people suspected of involvement in Friday's mosque bombing by Saudi national Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen al-Qabaa had been referred to the public prosecutor. The five, it said, had confessed to receiving financial transfers from abroad to carry out attacks targeting houses of worship.

Al-Qabas did not name them but Kuwait's interior ministry has said it had detained the driver of the vehicle that took Qabaa to the Shi'ite mosque, the owner of the car and the owner of the house where the driver went to hide after the attack.

Kuwaiti authorities were not imemdiately available for comment on the Al-Qabas report.

Relations have traditionally been good between the 70 per cent of Kuwait's 1.4 million citizens who are Sunni Muslims and the Shi'ites who comprise 30 per cent, but regional rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran has opened some fissures.

Al-Rai daily, another Arabic-language newspaper, said the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs permanently closed down the Fahd al-Ahmed charity on Sunday due to "repeated violations despite the warnings".

Quoting a source at the ministry, al-Rai said that the ministry had repeatedly asked the charity to comply with regulations stipulating that funds for Syrians be collected through official channels.