The Islamic State has taken credit for the explosion Wednesday at a World War I remembrance ceremony in the Saudi city of Jeddah that was organized by the French Consulate and attended by various European and American diplomats.
A Saudi security guard and Greek consulate worker were injured in the blast, which was the second attack in two weeks to target foreign officials in Saudi Arabia.
A statement posted to the official IS Telegram channel on Wednesday said the group’s “soldiers” had “planted an explosive device” in the non-Muslim cemetery. The statement did not provide any evidence to support the claim of responsibility.
The government of Mecca province said Wednesday that security forces were investigating the “failed and cowardly attack.” The French Embassy in Saudi Arabia pledged to support the Saudi investigators, writing in a statement, “Such attacks on innocent people are shameful and entirely without justification.”
The attack comes at a time of increased anti-France sentiment in the Muslim world. A number of Middle East countries called for boycotts of French goods after the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and French President Emmanuel Macron vociferously defended them as a matter of free speech.
A series of knife attacks followed other controversial comments from the French leader, who claimed last month that “Islamists want our future.” In late October, a Saudi man stabbed a guard outside the French Consulate in Jeddah. In the French city of Nice, a church stabbing attack by a Muslim extremist left three people dead and several more wounded.
In October, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee beheaded a schoolteacher near Paris who had shown his classroom caricatures of the prophet during a lesson on freedom of expression.