Several injured in 'cowardly' bomb attack at non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah

The blast targeted a First World War commemoration ceremony attended by several EU diplomatic delegations

Several people were injured after a bomb attack on a First World War commemoration ceremony at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, Greek and French officials said on Wednesday.

The Remembrance Day ceremony, organised by the French embassy, was attended by several diplomatic delegations from the European Union and other countries.

"The annual ceremony commemorating the end of First World War at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, attended by several consulates, including that of France, was the target of an IED attack this morning, which injured several people," the French foreign ministry said.

"France strongly condemns this cowardly, unjustifiable attack."

Officials gave varying numbers of injuries from the attack. A Greek official said four people were injured, including a Greek citizen, but Saudi Arabia said only two people were hurt, including the Greek and a Saudi security officer.

"The security authorities began (investigating) on Wednesday morning an incident of a cowardly attack when the French consul was attending an event in Jeddah," said Sultan Al Dosari, media spokesperson of Mecca.

"The incident resulted in the injury of one of the Greek consulate employees and a Saudi security man, (both) with minor injuries." He added Saudi authorities had begun an investigation.

French official Nadia Chaaya told the French network BFM that she was at the cemetery when she heard an explosion as the consul general was near the end of his speech.

Photo Taken In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

“At that moment we didn’t really understand, but we felt that we were the target because directly we saw the smoke and we were of course in panic mode,” she said.

“We tried to understand, and we were most of all afraid to see if there was going to be a second wave.”

She said the group scattered in different directions into the street.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Saudi Arabian officials have not yet commented.

The French consulate has urged residents and visitors in Saudi Arabia to exercise maximum vigilance following the attack, Reuters reported.

A Greek official said four people were injured in the attack, one of them Greek.

"The embassies that were involved in the commemoration ceremony condemn this cowardly attack, which is completely unjustified. They call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to shed as much light as they can on this attack, and to identify and hunt down the perpetrators," the French foreign ministry said.

Several hours later, Saudi Arabian state television broadcast from outside the cemetery and acknowledged that an attack involving an explosive device took place, but stressed that the security situation was now “stable.” The report said an official statement about the cause and casualty details was upcoming.

The incident comes less than a fortnight after a Saudi man was arrested in the same city for attacking a guard at the French consulate.

The victim suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Anger is still simmering around the world after French President Emmanuel Macron defended cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that were considered offensive to Islam.

Aftermath of Samuel Paty attack

These included caricatures printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The same cartoons were shown by French history teacher Samuel Paty to pupils during a class on free speech last month. He was later beheaded outside Paris following an online campaign by some angry parents.

Mr Macron's stance angered many Muslims, prompting protests in several countries at which portraits of the French president were burnt. It also led to calls for boycotting French products.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has warned the French public to brace for more attacks.

On Tuesday, Mr Macron hosted a summit of European leaders to plan a joint approach to combating religious radicalism after four people were killed in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna last week.