Friday, July 12, 2024

Two dead in shooting outside US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

A shooting incident outside the US Consulate in the Saudi port city of Jeddah has left two people dead — a Nepalese security guard and the gunman who initially opened fire. US and Saudi officials have confirmed the incident as investigations continue into the attack.

“A person in a car stopped near the American consulate building in Jeddah Governorate and got out of it carrying a firearm in his hand,” a spokesperson for the Mecca Region police said, adding, “So security authorities took the initiative to deal with him as required and the exchange of fire resulted in his death.”

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA), a state news outlet, reported the death of the security guard, who was part of the consulate’s private security.

No US citizens were injured in the gunfire, the US State Department said afterwards.

But, it added, “the US Embassy and Consulate remain in contact with Saudi authorities as they investigate the incident”.

The US consulate in the Red Sea port city, home to more than 4.7 million people, has been a target of violence before, including in 2016.

That year, security personnel identified a suspicious person near the parking lot of the Dr Suleiman Faqeeh Hospital, across the street from the consulate.

When they approached the individual, “he blew himself up with a suicide belt”, according to the Saudi interior ministry. The bomber was killed and two others injured.

The explosion coincided with the US Independence Day holiday, held on July 4, as well as the end of Ramadan that year. Three other suicide bombings occurred on the same day — one in Medina, targeting the Prophet’s Mosque, and two at a mosque in the eastern city of Qatif.

The consulate in Jeddah was also targeted in an attack in 2004, which saw five people breach the building with firearms and explosives.

Four Saudi security personnel were killed outside the consulate and five staff inside. Media reports at the time say that 18 employees and visa applicants were briefly held hostage before Saudi forces could arrive.

Three of the five attackers also died at the scene. The other two were wounded. In 2013, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced one man to death for his role in the 2004 attack and 19 more to 25 years in detention. The attack was blamed on al-Qaeda.

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