Six dead in attack on Saudi education office

RIYADH (AFP) – A man killed six employees in a “criminal” attack at an education department office in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the interior ministry said.

The rampage in which two others were wounded occurred in the southern province of Jazan at about 2pm (7pm Singapore time), ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told AFP.

“This is a criminal act,” said Turki, adding that one suspect had been arrested.

He was unable to immediately confirm how the victims were killed but state television reported they were shot.

The identity and motive of the suspect were unclear.

Al-Watan newspaper and Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reported that the alleged gunmen was a teacher.

Officers responded to a report that a man “was shooting at a number of employees while they were carrying out their duties,” Al-Ekhbariya state television reported on its Twitter account.

On the Internet, purported pictures from the scene showed at least five ambulances outside a building resembling a low-rise apartment block.

The killings occurred in the remote community of Ad Dair, several kilometres from the Yemeni border.

Ali al-Khawaji, a spokesman for the regional education department, said three of the dead were “education supervisors” while three others were administrators.

One of the wounded, also an admin worker, was in critical condition, Khawaji said.

Jazan and other southern border districts have been shelled by rebels in Yemen since March last year when a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes and later ground operations to halt the advance of the Huthi rebels there.

More than 90 soldiers and civilians have been killed in shelling and skirmishes in the Saudi border region.

Elsewhere in the kingdom, there have been mass shootings and bombings claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group against the Shi'ite minority community. ISIS has also targeted the security forces.

But criminal mass shootings are rare in Saudi Arabia.