• Four attackers also killed in the clash
• Border Guard regional commander among those killed
Three Border Guard officers were killed on Monday in a rare suicide attack by terrorists on the Kingdom’s border with Iraq, the Interior Ministry said. Four attackers were also killed in the clash. Two died from detonating explosive belts, while the other two were shot by Saudi officers, the ministry said on Monday.
“A border patrol in Suwaif, in the northern Arar region, came under fire from terrorist elements at 4:30 a.m.,” said Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, the ministry’s spokesman. As security forces killed one assailant, another “detonated an explosive belt he was carrying,” killing himself and two guards and wounding another, the ministry said.
In a later statement, the ministry said three guards were killed, including Brig. Audah Al-Balawi, commander of the Border Guard in the Northern Border Region. Al-Turki said the four assailants were “trying to cross the Saudi border.” Saudi Arabia’s top religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, condemned the attack and reiterated its support for the government in its fight against extremist groups including Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
The head of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, also condemned the attack. Saudi Arabia shares a 800-km border with Iraq and has recently stepped up efforts to secure the frontier.
“The infiltrators were surrounded at the site after security officers killed one of them,” a source said. One of the other terrorists signaled his wish to surrender and that he would hand himself over to Al-Balawi, who had arrived at the site with his assistant Tariq Halawi and Col. Salem Al-Atisan.
As the terrorist came close to them, he blew himself up with the explosives belt hidden under his clothes, killing Al-Balawi and Halawi. Al-Atisan, who was injured, was airlifted to a hospital in Riyadh for treatment. His condition is reportedly stable.
Al-Balawi was appointed a month ago as the commander of the Border Guard in the region after he had the same position in the Haql area of Tabuk.