Several wounded in explosion at a cemetery in Saudi Arabia’s Jiddah: French officials

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Several countries had representatives at the ceremony, held at a cemetery for non-Muslim dead, the officials from the French Foreign Ministry said. The identities of the victims were unclear.

Multiple people were wounded on Wednesday when an explosive device hit an international ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at a cemetery in the Saudi Arabian city of Jiddah, according to French government officials.

Several countries had representatives at the ceremony, held at a cemetery for non-Muslim dead, the officials from the French Foreign Ministry said. The identities of the victims were unclear.

November 11, 2020 marks the 102nd anniversary of the armistice ending World War I and is commemorated in several European countries. The French officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, condemned the attack. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion.

Saudi officials and state-run media in the Kingdom have not commented on the attack at the cemetery.

Jiddah, the Red Sea port city, saw its Ottoman troops surrender to the local troops backed by the British in 1916 amid the war. That sparked the start of the Kingdom of Hejaz, which later became part of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Wednesday’s attack follows on the heels of a stabbing October 29 that slightly wounded a guard at the French Consulate in the city of Jiddah. The stabbing was carried out by a Saudi man, who was arrested. His motives remain unclear.

France has urged its citizens in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries 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.

The French President’s support for caricatures as a cornerstone of free speech has riled some Muslims who view the depictions as incitement and a form of hate speech. Saudi King Salman is scheduled to deliver an annual address to the nation on Wednesday, laying out policy priorities for the coming year.

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