AT least 41 people were killed and scores were injured in separate terror attacks in Kuwait, France and Tunisia on Friday.
In Kuwait City, a suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayers at a Shiite mosque, killing at least 13 people, and in an unprecedented attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
“The initial count for the casualties is that at least 13 dead, and 25 have been taken to hospital,” a medical source told AFP.
IS claimed what was the first-ever bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and the first terror attack in the Gulf state since January 2006.
The IS-affiliated group in Saudi Arabia, calling itself Najd Province, said militant Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid carried out the attack on the mosque, which it claimed was spreading Shiite teachings among Sunni Muslims.
IS, a radical Sunni Muslim group, considers Shiites to be heretics.
Najd Province claimed similar bombings at Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.
The blast hit Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City, the interior ministry said in a brief statement without providing details.
The official KUNA news agency confirmed that there were “dead and wounded,” but also did not provide details.
A witness told AFP “dozens were killed and wounded,” and pictures circulating on social media showed several bloodied bodies in the mosque amid debris.
A security official said “it is a suicide bombing.”
Witnesses gave a similar account, saying a suicide bomber entered the mosque during the weekly noon prayers.
An AFP photographer who arrived at the site after the bombing said the area was cordoned off by police.
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, immediately visited the site, and footage on state-run Kuwait Television showed him visibly moved by the scenes of carnage.
The television showed footage of massive destruction caused by the blast, and people posted online horrific pictures of the dead and wounded.
The Kuwaiti cabinet went into an emergency meeting to discuss the incident, as the interior ministry raised the level of alert and mobilized all security forces.
A number of hospitals in the oil-rich emirate declared states of emergency to deal with the wounded, while the central blood bank appealed for blood donations.
Kuwaiti Shiites make up around one-third of the country’s native population of 1.3 million people.
The interior ministry said it launched a full investigation into the incident.
Three weeks ago, the ministry said it has raised the level of security around mosques following the bombings in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The bombing was strongly condemned by political groups, organizations and lawmakers.
The mainstream Sunni group, the Islamic Constitutional Movement condemned what it called “the low criminal attack targeting the (Shiite) mosque.”
Kuwait’s leading Sunni cleric, Sheikh Ajeel al-Nashmi, said on Twitter that the bombing is a “criminal act aimed at sowing seeds of discord, and undoubtedly Shiites and Sunnis will foil the terrorists’ plot.”
Independent MP Sultan al-Shemmari called on the government to “hit with an iron fist” against the “terrorists.”
In the past few weeks, Kuwaiti courts have tried a number of people on charges of being IS members and sentenced at least one of them to several years in jail.
In eastern France, a suspected Islamist attacker pinned a decapitated head covered with Arabic writing to the gates of a gas factory in eastern France on Friday before being arrested, police said.
The suspect entered the factory and set off several small explosive devices, the source said.
Police said it was unclear whether the attacker was acting alone, or had accomplices.
“According to the initial findings of the enquiry, one or several individuals on board a vehicle, drove into the factory. An explosion then took place,” said one of the sources.
“The decapitated body of a person was found nearby the factory but we do not yet know whether the body was transported to the place or not,” added this source, adding that a “flag with Arabic writing on it was found at the scene.”
A man thought to be the person who carried out the attack has been arrested, according to sources close to the enquiry, who said he was known to the security services.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he would go “immediately” to the scene, his office said.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls ordered increased security measures at all sensitive sites in the area.
The attack, which occurred around 10:00 am local time (0800 GMT), according to local media, came nearly six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that killed 17 people in January that started with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two Islamist brothers attacked the satirical magazine, killing 12. A policewoman and four hostages in a Jewish supermarket were also killed during the three-day attacks.
The January attacks drew record crowds onto the streets of Paris in a historic “march against terrorism”.
Nearly four million people marched through the streets of France and more than 1.5 million in the French capital along with dozens of world leaders to express defiance in the wake of the attacks.
France has a high proportion of people that have gone to fight alongside Islamists in Iraq and Syria and has been on alert for possible attacks on its soil since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Earlier this week, the country passed a controversial new spying law granting sweeping powers to snoop on citizens.
The new French law allows authorities to spy on the digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry without prior authorization from a judge, and forces Internet service providers and phone companies to give up data upon request.
Intelligence services will have the right to place cameras and recording devices in private dwellings and install “keylogger” devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time.
In Tunisia, a gunman opened fire at tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia on Friday, leaving at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, in what the authorities branded a “terrorist attack”.
Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion after the shooting at a hotel in the district of Sousse, about 140 kilometer south of Tunis.
The toll from the attack is “27 dead including tourists,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said without giving their nationalities.