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Saudi Arabia: Four wounded after blast strikes cemetery for non-Muslims

French foreign ministry says explosion targeted event marking end of World War One in Jeddah
A picture shows the outside of a non-Muslim cemetery in the Saudi city of Jeddah where a bomb struck a World War I commemoration attended by European diplomats on 11 November 2020 leaving several people wounded amid Muslim anger over French cartoons (AFP)

Four people were wounded in an explosion on Wednesday at the non-Muslim cemetery in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah during a ceremony commemorating the armistice marking the end of World War 1.

The event at the coastal city's Khawajaat Cemetery included diplomats from several European countries. It is not clear if any officials present were among those wounded.

'France strongly condemns this cowardly attack that nothing can justify'

- French foreign ministry

"The annual ceremony commemorating the end of the First World War at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, involving several consulates general - including the French consulate - was the target of an explosive device attack this morning, which caused several injuries," said the ministry.

"France strongly condemns this cowardly attack that nothing can justify."

A Greek official told Reuters four people had been wounded.

"There was some sort of a blast at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah. There are four slightly injured, among them one Greek," the Greek official told Reuters, declining to named.

According to Saudi news site Al Arabiya, an employee of the Greek embassy and a Saudi Arabian security guard were among those wounded, but the cemetery had been secured and the situation was currently stable.

In the aftermath of Wednesday's attack, the French embassy in the UAE also called on its citizens to be vigilant in case of further incidents.

Last month, a Saudi citizen with a knife wounded a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah on the same day that a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church in Nice in southern France.

Wednesday's blast came as French President Emmanuel Macron, the target of ire in much of the Muslim world for vowing to confront Islamism, attended an Armistice Day ceremony in Paris.

Several countries are marking the 102nd anniversary of the armistice signed by Germany and Allied countries to end the war.

Macron has vigorously defended the right to publish cartoons viewed as offensive by some, including caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The same cartoons were shown by French history teacher Samuel Paty to pupils in a class on free speech, leading to his beheading outside Paris on 16 October following an online campaign by parents angry over his choice of lesson material. 

Macron's stance angered many Muslims, prompting protests in several countries at which portraits of the French president were burnt, and a campaign to boycott French products.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, has criticised the cartoons, but "strongly" condemned last month's attack in Nice.