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Mecca arson-suicide bid extinguished

Saudi police stopped a man from setting himself on fire in Mecca [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2017

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Saudi police have dismissed rumours of an attack targeting the Kaaba in Mecca after security forces stopped a man from setting himself on fire in front of the holy site.
A man tried to set himself on fire in front of the holy Kaaba in Mecca before Saudi police stepped in, local media reported on Tuesday.

"At 11pm on Monday, 6 February 2017, a man in his thirties was arrested near the holy Kaaba as he poured gasoline on his clothes and attempted to set himself on fire," said Sameh al-Silmi, media spokesperson for the Grand Mosque's security force.

"His actions show he is mentally ill, and legal action will be taken against him," al-Silmi added, denying rumours that the man was trying to burn the Kaaba.

Although the man's real intention remains unclear, targeting Islam's holiest site is not unlikely.

Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one of many calling for the destruction of the Kaaba, particularly its eastern corner, the Black Stone.

He announced in 2014 his group's intention to target the holy site, because the "Islamic faith does not allow the worship of stones".

Kuwaiti Islamist preacher Ibrahim al-Kandari is also among those demanding the destruction of the Stone, which is believed to be of meteoric origin.

He argued in previous statements that praying towards the Stone was an "ancient pagan ritual" that should be put to an end.

In July 2016, Saudi police prevented a tragedy after stopping a suicide bomber from reaching the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, one of Islam's holiest sites.

The suicide bombing outside the sprawling mosque grounds where the Prophet is buried killed four Saudi security troops and wounded five.

Every year, millions of Muslims flock to Mecca and Medina to carry out the annual pilgrimage ritual.

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