New Islamic State branch claims Saudi Arabia attack that killed five
A previously unheard of Islamic State group branch with links to Bahrain has purportedly claimed a deadly shooting targeting Shiite worshippers in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said five people were killed in the shooting in the city of Saihat, and nine more were wounded.
State television reported that a gunman wearing an explosives belt opened fire on Shiites at a prayer hall as they took part in evening worship. State TV reported the gunman was shot dead before he could detonate the explosives.
In a statement posted online, the purportedly new IS branch calling itself Bahrain Province claimed its gunman, named Shuja al-Dosari, used a Kalashnikov rifle to attack Shiites in their place of worship.
The statement said the gunman killed Shiites as "they finished their polytheist rituals" and described them using the derogatory term "rafida", meaning those who reject the Sunni path.
This is the third IS branch to appear in the Arabian Peninsula this year. Two other branches in Saudi Arabia have claimed previous attacks on Shiites and security forces that killed nearly 70 people. One attack on August 6 saw a suicide bomber hit a mosque inside a police compound in western Saudi Arabia, killing 15 people.
The Bahrain Province name appears to be a reference to the historic area of Bahrain, which once encompassed the current island-state and parts of what is now the oil-rich eastern region of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom's eastern region and Bahrain are predominantly Shiite, but Saudi Arabia is majority Sunni and Bahrain's rulers are Sunni.
Saihat is in Saudi Arabia's al-Qatif region.
Shiites traditionally pray at night in the lead-up to Ashura, which falls this year on October 24, in which many Shiite Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson through acts of self-flagellation.
Last November, a similar shooting took place in eastern Saudi Arabia. Eight Shiites were gunned down in a prayer hall by assailants police said had been inspired by IS.