KUWAIT

Owner of vehicle used by bomber detained

Kuwaiti flags are draped over the bodies of victims of last Friday's bombing, which killed 27 and injured at least 200 people.
Kuwaiti flags are draped over the bodies of victims of last Friday's bombing, which killed 27 and injured at least 200 people.PHOTO: REUTERS

Kuwait - Kuwait's interior ministry said yesterday it had detained among others the owner of a vehicle which a suicide bomber used to get to a Shi'ite Muslim mosque, where he blew himself up, killing 27 and wounding at least 200 people during a prayer session.

Thousands of Sunnis and Shi'ites yesterday took part in a mass funeral procession for the victims at Kuwait's Grand Mosque, with some chanting "Sunnis and Shi'ites are brothers", the Associated Press reported.

Militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the country's worst militant attack last Friday, one of three attacks on three continents that day apparently linked to hardline Islamists.

In Tunisia, a gunman killed 38 people, including Western tourists on a beach, and in France, a decapitated body was found after an attacker rammed his car into a gas container, triggering an explosion.

The interior ministry said it was now looking for the driver who vanished shortly after last Friday's blast in Kuwait, which has been spared the rampant violence in neighbouring Iraq and the recent spate of ISIS bombings of Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia, another neighbour.

A security source said "numerous arrests" had been made in connection with last Friday's bombing, which government officials said was intended to stir enmity between Kuwait's Sunni majority and Shi'ite minority.

Two Iranian nationals were among those killed, foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by Iranian state media yesterday.

Relatives of seven of those killed wept and prayed over shrouded corpses at a mosque yesterday. The bodies will be buried in the Shi'ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq.

Shi'ites make up between 15 and 30 per cent of the population of Kuwait, a mostly Sunni country where members of both communities live side by side with little apparent friction.

"We will cut the evil hand that interferes with our homeland's security," Interior Minister Mohammed al Khaled al Sabah was quoted as saying by Kuna news agency.

Kuwait has stepped up security to the highest level at state-run oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp and its affiliates, Kuna reported.

ISIS named the bomber as Abu Suleiman al-Muwahed and said on social media that he had targeted a "temple of the apostates" - a term the group uses to refer to Shi'ites, whom it regards as heretics.

ISIS had urged its followers last Tuesday to step up attacks during the Ramadan fasting month against Christians, Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims fighting with a US-led coalition against the ultra-hardline militant group.

Reuters

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Owner of vehicle used by bomber detained'. Print Edition | Subscribe