May 6, 2016 / 1:52 PM / 3 years ago

Saudi identifies suspected Islamic State fighters killed in raid

Members of Saudi security forces are seen during a raid on a wanted list of suspects involved in the bombing of a mosque in Asir province in August, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 6, 2016. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via

DOHA (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia published the names on Friday of four people it said were Islamic State fighters killed in a raid by security forces outside Mecca, and vowed to protect the country from further attacks by the group.

Security forces shot dead two of the men and two others blew themselves up outside the holy city on Thursday. The raid followed a spate of shootings and bombings against security forces which raised concerns about security in the world’s top oil exporter.

Among the four was 46-year-old Saudi national Said Ayed al-Shahrani who orchestrated the bombing of a mosque for security forces in Asir province in August that killed 15 people, state news agency SPA quoted an interior ministry statement as saying on Friday.

“We continue with determination to foil attacks and to guard the security of this nation.. we must stand as one against this criminal group and its terrorist activities,” the statement said.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported that explosive devices and pistols had been found after Thursday’s shooting and showed images of the four men’s faces and dates of birth.

The interior ministry also said gunmen shot and killed a Saudi policeman on duty in a village close to the site of Thursday’s raid.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a string of bombings that have targeted police and mosques of the kingdom’s Shi’ite Muslim minority since last year.

The militant group views Shi’ites as heretics but is also bitterly opposed to the wealthy Gulf kingdom’s Sunni Muslim rulers, whom it regards as having betrayed Islam through close ties with the West. It has urged young Saudi Sunnis to attack targets including Shi’ites.

Reporting by Tom Finn; editing by Dominic Evans

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