KUWAIT CITY – A suicide bomber from the international terror group Islamic State or ISIS attacked a Shia mosque in Kuwait City late Friday afternoon (Manila time). The attack left 27 killed and over 200 injured, most of them just took part in the Friday morning prayer. This is the worst terrorist attack in Kuwait since 1983, when five people were killed following the bombing of the American and French embassies.
The attacked happened in Shia Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq mosque in the Sawabir district of Sharq area in the Capitol Governorate. The blast heavily damaged parts of the building, ripping through the back of the mosque near the door and destroying the ceiling and the wall. More than 2,000 people were praying inside the mosque when the incident occurred.
Raul Dado, the Consul General of the Philippines to Kuwait, reported through Facebook that there were no Filipino casualties during the attack and that all OFWs are safe. “The Embassy is monitoring the situation with Philippine groups and leaders,” he added.
ISIS identified the bomber as Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid. The terror group praised him in a statement posted on social media for targeting a “temple of the rejectionists” – a derogatory term used to refer to Shia Muslims.
The Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah and the speaker of the Kuwaiti Parliament rushed to the scene right after the news broke out and coaxed for an emergency meeting with the cabinet members later in the afternoon. The Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah strongly condemned the attack, saying, “This incident targets our internal front, our national unity. But this is too difficult for them and we are much stronger than that.”
The suicide bombing, which happened just a week into the month-long observance of Ramadan, happened almost simultaneously with terror attacks in France and Tunisia. This prompted one terror expert to say that ISIS may be adopting “a new tactic of launching punitive external attacks rather than just focusing on state-building and territorial acquisition” and that the group is succeeding in spreading its doctrine to its followers worldwide.
For his part, Dado reminded Filipinos to be always aware of their surroundings and to be careful in going to malls, or staying out late at night. “As always, don’t panic. The first principle is to stay put in our residences and places of work.” Dado said. “Most of all, even as you are careful, go on with your normal activities. Life and work goes on,” he added.
The Philippine Embassy is located at Block 6, Villa 153 Nouman Bin Basher St. corner Damascus St. in Faiha. Stakeholders may get in touch with their office through the hotline (+965) 6500-2612 or contact (+965) 2252-8422, 2251-1806.
*The writer, Edrian Echague, is currently based in Kuwait City, working as an Academic Advisor to the Royal Family of Al-Sabah. He was recognized as one of the ten outstanding maritime students in the Philippines in 2012.