Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group claimed the killing of 25 persons and 202 others wounded in a suicide bombing during Friday prayers at a Shia mosque in Kuwait.
In a message posted on a Twitter account known to belong to the group, ISIL claimed the blast was a work of a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest.
Kuwait’s interior ministry said in a statement, carried by state news agency KUNA, that the attack targeted the packed Imam Sadiq mosque during Friday prayers.
Video footage from the scene showed several bodies on the floor of the Imam Sadiq mosque amid debris and clouds of heavy smoke.
Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited the mosque, located just a few buidling away from the country’s interior ministry.
An emergency session of parliament has also been called.
Kuwait’s Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub al-Sanea condemned the “terrorist attack” which he said “threatens our security, and aims to fracture the country’s unity,
“Kuwait will remain an oasis of security for all groups of Kuwaiti society and all sects. The government is taking many procedures to protect prayers and mosques.” al-Sanea told Kuwait’s state news agency, KUNA.
Meanwhile, Saad al-Ajmi, Kuwait’s former information minister, told Al Jazeera that the attack was a reminder that no country was “immune from terrorism”.
Ajmi said Kuwait had “a good record” in its relationship between Sunni and Shia groups, and was a small country with good security without widespread dissent.
However, if a group was responsible, he said: “I think that those who want to tip the whole region ablaze in a sectarian war would be behind this attack because that is their agenda.”
The explosion was the first suicide bombing attack on a Shia mosque in the Gulf Arab state, where Sunnis and Shia live side by side with little apparent friction.