GCC interior ministers agreed at a meeting in Kuwait to boost
co-operation to fight terrorism
Interior ministers of the Gulf states yesterday vowed to take a united stand against a string of deadly bombings targeting Shia mosques claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
Holding an emergency meeting in Kuwait, the scene of the latest suicide attack that killed 26 people last Friday, the ministers of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states stressed the attacks are a threat to the stability of the region.
Around 50 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in suicide attacks on three Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the past two months, all claimed by IS.
The IS has repeatedly targeted Shias in attacks across the Middle East.
The ministers “underscored the importance of co-ordination and co-operation in all measures and steps in confronting this serious epidemic... which is a threat to the security and stability of the GCC states,” said a statement issued after the night meeting.
The statement called the attacks “criminal acts not linked with Islam and its values, which renounce violence and the killing of innocents.”
“Terrorist attacks that targeted places of worship aim at sowing dissent, promoting divisions, undermining security and terrorising and killing innocent people,” the statement said.
The officials also expressed sympathy with Kuwait, which suffered the worst attack in its history last week with a suicide bombing that left 26 people dead and 227 others wounded.
Meanwhile, Kuwait deployed unprecedented security measures around Shia mosques for Friday prayers, as the emir attended a Shia-Sunni joint ceremony in a show of unity.
Shia mosques in Kuwait City were completely cordoned off, and roads leading to them were closed to traffic, as security men and volunteers stood guard, an AFP reporter said.
Thousands of Shia and Sunni worshippers held a joint prayer at the Grand Mosque, Kuwait’s largest place of worship for Sunnis.
The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, attended the noon prayers along with the crown prince, parliament speaker and several cabinet ministers and lawmakers.
Armoured vehicles, elite forces and policemen stood guard outside the mosque, where the mercury hit 45 degrees Celsius.
All roads leading to the mosque were off limits to vehicles and worshippers were thoroughly searched before they were allowed inside.
Prayer leader Sheikh Waleed al-Ali, a Sunni, called for national unity and urged Muslims to abandon extremist ideology.
“Extremism has led to this bloodshed,” he said in his sermon.
Both Sunni and Shia worshippers stood in rows beside each other, each praying according to their tradition.
“Our message today is that Kuwait is united and nothing will ever succeed to divide us,” Abdullah Nuri, a Shia engineer, said.
“The highly positive reactions by our Sunni brothers after the blast made us very satisfied,” Nuri said.
Shia cleric Abdullah al-Nejada said: “This is a proof that Sunnis and Shias are the same and that they (terrorists) will not succeed in dividing this country.”
Kuwait, declaring itself in a state of war against “terrorism,” has placed security forces and the police on high alert.
A large number of suspects have been arrested, and five sent to the public prosecution.
“This is a clear message to terrorists that you will not succeed in your plot. This is the Kuwaiti response to you,” MP Khalil Abul said as he left the mosque.
Meanwhile, in Bahrain dozens of Shias and Sunnis prayed side by side yesterday in a mosque near Manama.
Residents said tight security was in place for the special session of weekly prayers in a mosque at Diraz, a Shia village west of Manama.
The joint prayers were a show of Bahraini “unity in the face of those plotting against the Arab and Islamic world”, said Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifah.
PM attends meeting
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani participated in the extraordinary meeting of the interior ministers of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states. The meeting was held at the Kuwait International Airport.
Later, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani attended a dinner banquet hosted by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohamed al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah in honour of the GCC interior ministers.
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