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Kuwait mourns terror victims as security beefed up – Interior Minister vows to ‘cut the evil hand’

4d ago
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KUWAIT: Thousands of people in Kuwait took part in a mass funeral procession yesterday for 27 people killed in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite mosque a day earlier. The bombing, which also wounded more than 200 male worshippers who were taking part in midday Friday prayers, was the first terrorist attack in Kuwait in more than two decades. The government organized yesterday's mass funeral for those killed. Thousands of Sunnis and Shiites from across the country took part in the procession and prayer at Kuwait's Grand Mosque. Many carried the Kuwaiti flag; others a simple black flag to signify mourning. Some in the crowd chanted, "Sunnis and Shiites are brothers!" Sunni groups in Kuwait and leaders from across the Middle East have strongly condemned the attack, which Gulf officials say is aimed at provoking a backlash from Shiites and sparking sectarian war. More than a third of Kuwait's 1.2 million citizens are believed to be Shiite. The majority of Kuwaitis are Sunni Muslims. Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hamad Al-Sabah was quoted in the official Kuwait News Agency describing the bombing as "grotesque" and vowing to "cut the evil hand" that tampers with the country's security. The news agency also carried a statement from Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, extending his condolences to the families of the victims. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said yesterday it had detained amongst others the owner of a vehicle which a suicide bomber used to get to a Shiite Muslim mosque. Militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the country's worst militant attack on Friday, one of three attacks on three continents that day apparently linked to the hardline Islamists. The Interior Ministry said it is now looking for the driver who vanished shortly after the blast. Two Iranian killed A security source said "numerous arrests" had been made in connection with Friday's bombing, which government officials said was intended to stir enmity between Kuwait's Sunni majority and Shiite minority. Two Iranian nationals were among those killed, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by Iranian state media yesterday. Relatives of those killed wept and prayed over their shrouded corpses at a mosque yesterday, who will be buried in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq. Shiites are between 15 and 30 percent 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 Sheikh Mohammed Al Khaled Al Sabah was quoted as saying by KUNA. Kuwait has stepped up security to the highest level at state-run oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and its affiliates, KUNA also reported. Islamic State 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 Shiites, whom it regards as heretics. Islamic State had urged its followers on Tuesday to step up attacks during the Ramadan fasting month against Christians, Shiites and Sunni Muslims fighting with a US-led coalition against the ultra-hardline jihadist group. There was no evidence Friday's three attacks were deliberately coordinated. But coming so close together, they underscored the far-reaching, fast-growing influence of Islamic State, Western politicians said. - Agencies