A number of people have been wounded as an explosive device was detonated during Remembrance Day ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at a cemetery in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.
France’s foreign ministry has reported that several countries had representatives at the ceremony attended by European diplomats.
“The annual ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, attended by several consulates, including that of France, was the target of an IED [improvised explosive device] attack this morning, which injured several people,” the ministry said.
“France strongly condemns this cowardly, unjustifiable attack.”
The explosion was also confirmed by a Greek diplomat who stated that, “there was some sort of a blast at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah. There are slightly injured people, among them one Greek,” he said without providing further details.
France has urged its citizens in the kingdom to be “on maximum alert” amid heightened tensions after an assailant decapitated a French middle school teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.
“In particular, exercise discretion and stay away from all gatherings and be cautious when moving around,” said a foreign ministry statement, which was circulated to French residents in Jeddah.
Several countries are marking the 102nd anniversary of the armistice signed by Germany and Allied countries to end the 1914-1918 war.
The attack comes as French President, Emmanuel Macron’s comments against “Islamic radicalism” has angered many Muslims, prompting angry protests in several countries and a campaign to boycott French products.
President Macron has also vigorously defended the right to publish cartoons viewed as extremely offensive by Muslims, including caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed by satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
The same cartoons were shown by a French history teacher, Samuel Paty to pupils in a class on free speech, leading to his beheading outside Paris on October 16 following an online campaign by parents angry over his choice of lesson material.
On 29th October, a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah was stabbed and injured by a Saudi man on the same day that three people were killed in a knife attack in the French city of Nice that was blamed on an “Islamist terrorist.”
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, also criticised the cartoons but “strongly” condemned the attack in Nice.
The French foreign ministry said the consulates involved were calling on the Saudi authorities to “shed as much light as they can on this attack, and to identify and hunt down the perpetrators.”
Saudi officials have yet to comment on the attack and Saudi state-run media is yet to report it. King Salman is however scheduled to deliver an annual address to the nation later on 11th November, laying out policy priorities for the coming year.
Earlier, President Macron hosted a summit of European leaders to plot a joint approach to combating what he calls “Islamist radicalism” after four people were killed in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna on 2nd November.
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