By William Maclean
Kuwait has arrested several people on suspicion of involvement in the bombing of a Shi’ite Muslim mosque on Friday that killed 27 people, a security source said on Saturday as the Gulf state marked a day of national mourning and prepared a mass funeral.
Militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was the Gulf Arab country’s worst militant attack in years and according to the interior ministry also wounded more than 200.
“Numerous arrests of people… suspected of having ties with the suicide bomber have been made,” said the source.
Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas said state security had arrested three people suspected of being involved.
Government officials said the bombing was intended to stir emnity between the Sunni majority and the Shi’ite minority, an aim Saudi officials have also ascribed to Islamic State bombings of Shi’ite mosques in eastern Saudi Arabia in past weeks.
Shi’ites comprise between 15 and 30 percent of the population of Kuwait, a predominantly Sunni Gulf Arab state where members of both communities live side by side with little apparent friction.
“We will cut the evil hand that interferes with our homeland’s security,” Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed al Khaled al Sabah was quoted as saying by the KUNA official news agency .
Parliament member Khalil al-Salih was at the Imam al-Sadeq Mosque in the Sawaber district in the eastern part of the Kuwaiti capital when Friday’s attack occurred.
He said worshippers were kneeling in prayer when the bomber walked in and detonated his explosives, destroying walls and the ceiling.
A mass funeral for the dead is to be held at Kuwait City’s Grand Mosque on Saturday, KUNA reported. A day of national mourning has been declared.
Islamic State had urged its followers on Tuesday to step up attacks during the Ramadan fasting month against Christians, Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims fighting with a U.S.-led coalition against the ultra-hardline jihadist group.
Also on Friday, a gunman killed 37 people including Western tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia, and in France a decapitated body covered in Arabic writing was found after an attacker rammed his car into a gas container, triggering an explosion.
There was no evidence the three attacks were deliberately coordinated. But coming so close together, they underscored the far-reaching, fast-growing influence of Islamic State, Western politicians said.