No South Africans have been injured in the bomb blast in Madinah, the South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) said on Monday evening. There is concern around the safety of South Africans on umrah following a bomb explosion near the mosque of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Speaking to VOC earlier, Sedick Steenkamp, the chairperson of the South African Travel Haj Operators Association (Sathoa) said they had been in contact with their representatives in the holy cities and no South Africans were reported to be injured. Some 10 000 South Africans have been performing umrah throughout Ramadan.
“Alhamdullilah, we can confirm that all mu’mireen are safe and unharmed. We make dua for the safety of all in those in the Kingdom Saudi Arabia,” he reported.
According to several news outlets, four Saudi security force members were killed after a suicide bombing near the prophet’s mosque, the Al-Haram Al-Nabawi, regarded as one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent said the suicide bombing took place in a parking lot between the city court and the mosque, visited by millions every year. The channel showed images of fire raging in a parking lot with at least one body seen nearby. The suicide bomber also reportedly died in the attack. The attack near the prophet’s mosque took place during Maghrib prayers, the time when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Security forces cordoned off the area.
Two other suicide bombings also took place in the eastern city of Qatif on Monday evening after a foiled attack earlier in the day in Jeddah. Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent said worshippers were unhurt following the attack.
Saudi citizen Mohamad Jedaan, who lives in Madinah, was in the Haram when the explosion was heard. He reported that plumes of smoke filled the air, as thousands of people walked the streets to Masjid Nabawi.
“There was no real panic after the blast. Things settled down fairly quickly,” he told VOC.
While Saudi linked news outlets reported that the explosion in Madinah was a suicide attack, Steenkamp said Saudi authorities have yet to confirm details around the incident. There are conflicting reports doing the rounds on social media of the blast being a possible gas cylinder explosion or a generator explosion. Social media is being flooded by images and a video showing a car burning and the bodies of at least two security officers strewn on the ground after the explosion.
“Nothing has been confirmed at this stage, so we ask the public not to panic. We also urge people not to circulate unverified reports on social media, as this simply adds to the sense of fear,” Steenkamp said.
By late Monday evening, things were said to be calm in Madinah with the Prophet’s masjid filled to capacity for the taraweeh prayer. The Saudi Arabia Supreme Court announced that Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on Wednesday. VOC