Dozens killed in grisly attacks during Ramadan

26th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A gunman killed dozens of people at a Tunisian beach resort, a suicide bomber targeted a mosque in Kuwait and a decapitated head was displayed on the fence of a gas factory in France in an Islamist assault Friday.

The attacks were not apparently coordinated, but came after the Islamic State group urged supporters to carry out attacks during Ramadan.

Thirty-nine people, including foreign tourists who had been sunbathing and swimming, were shot dead at the packed Tunisian Mediterranean resort of Port el Kantaoui after a man pulled out a gun hidden inside a beach umbrella.

IS claimed the suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in a rare attack on Kuwait in which 27 people were killed, and Islamist flags were found at the site of the French attack.

The Islamist bloodshed comes on the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims observe a fast from dawn to sunset every day.

On Tuesday, Islamic State group spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called for Muslims to engage in jihad and become martyrs during Ramadan.

"The best acts that bring you closer to God are jihad, so hurry to it and make sure to carry out the invasion this holy month and be exposed to martyrdom in it," Adnani said in an audio message posted online.

"These are your weapons and this is Ramadan."

A day of bloodshed began with a dawn raid on an African Union base in Somalia by Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab militants who often increase attacks during Ramadan.

Witnesses said as many as 50 people were killed in Lego village, 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu, and some of them beheaded, before Shebab hoisted a black Islamic flag over the base.

- Severed head displayed -

In France, at least one extremist rammed a car into a factory owned by US firm Air Products near France's second city of Lyon.

The severed head of a businessman identified as the suspect's boss by police, was found attached to the gates of the factory.

The alleged attacker, named by police as Yassin Salhi, appeared to have been trying to blow up the plant by releasing explosive gases when he was caught.

French President Francois Hollande said inscriptions were found on the headless body, while Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Islamist flags were displayed around the head, without saying if they were those of IS.

"The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack," said Hollande.

Cazeneuve said Salhi was known to have links to a radical form of Sunni Islam.

The act of beheading has become a hallmark of the Islamic State group which has taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria and rallied supporters around the world to carry out attacks in their countries.

- Massacres in Tunisia, Kuwait -

Shortly after the attack in France, a gunman entered a resort on the sun-soaked Tunisian coast before opening fire, sending tourists running for cover.

At least five Britons were killed, and Foreign Minister Philip Hammond warned more could be among the dead.

The other hotel guests were mainly from central Europe, the hotel's operators said.

The day's third attack hit Kuwait when a suicide bomber entered a mosque in the capital as Muslims took part in Friday prayers, killing 27 people and wounded more than 200.

It was the Gulf state's first such attack in nearly a decade.

The IS-affiliated group in Saudi Arabia, calling itself Najd Province, said one of its militants had carried out the bombing on a mosque it claimed was spreading Shiite teachings among Sunni Muslims.

IS, a radical Sunni Muslim group, considers Shiites to be heretics. Najd Province has claimed responsibility for several other attacks on Shiite mosques in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, said after visiting the site of the attack that it was "a desperate and evil attempt targeting Kuwait's national unity".

- 'Perverted ideology' -

The Islamic State group marks June 29 as the first anniversary of its self-declared "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria.

The IS jihadists were also accused by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of killing 164 civilians in an offensive on the Kurdish town of Kobane.

On Friday, IS fighters attacked the Syrian town of Kobane from which it was dramatically ousted in January by Kurdish militia backed by US-led air strikes after four months of heavy fighting.

France and Spain raised their alert level after the attacks, and Britain increased security at public events.

The White House condemned what it described as "heinous attacks" in the three countries, adding: "We stand with these nations as they respond to attacks on their soil today."

"Our hearts all go out to the victims of these appalling terrorist attacks," Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said, branding them the fruit of "perverted ideology".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attacks "show the challenges we face when it comes to fighting terrorism and Islamist extremism".

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© 2015 AFP

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