Published: 2017-06-24 01:19
Last Updated: 2021-05-05 11:25
Saudi Arabian police foiled on Friday a "terrorist action" against Islam's holiest site, where millions of faithful from around the world have gathered, the state Al-Ekhbaria news channel said.
Citing the Ministry of the Interior, it said 11 people were injured in the collapse of a three-storey building where a suicide bomber had barricade himself and exploded. Five of the injured were police.
It said a terrorist attack had been planned against Mecca's Grand Mosque, where Muslims from around the globe have converged for the conclusion of the holy Ramadan fasting month.
Since late 2014 Saudi Arabia has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
Purported images from the scene that circulated on social media showed an alley filled with bricks and other debris apparently from a blast.
Video showed what appeared to be a bearded man's head lying among rubble from a collapsed structure.
The incident happened with hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered at the Grand Mosque for early afternoon prayers on the last Friday of this year's Ramadan.
Near the end of Ramadan last year in the Saudi city of Medina four security officers died in an explosion close to Islam's second holiest site, the Prophet's Mosque.
It was one of three suicide blasts around the kingdom on the same day, in which a total of seven people were believed killed.
The US Central Intelligence Agency said those attacks bore the hallmarks of IS.
Most attacks in Saudi Arabia have targeted the Shiite minority and security forces, killing dozens of people.
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for attacks against the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition battling the group in Syria and Iraq.
Since July last year police have arrested around 40 people, including Saudis and Pakistanis, for alleged extremist links.
Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism capabilities -- which for years were led by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef -- are well-regarded internationally.
On Wednesday Prince Mohammed was ousted from his posts of crown prince and interior minister, replaced as heir to the throne by King Salman's son Mohammed bin Salman.
Friday's counter-terrorist operation was the first to take place under the new interior minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, who is in his early 30s.
Prince Abdulaziz is the nephew of the deposed minister.