JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Two explosions have damaged cars parked near Western-linked banks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, injuring at least one person, witnesses and security sources say.
The cause of the explosions on Saturday was not immediately clear and the Interior Ministry suggested that at least one of the blasts may not have been politically motivated.
Witnesses said one blast occurred in the rear of a car near a cash machine of the Samba Financial Group, formerly known as Saudi American Bank. The other blast took place in an empty car close to a branch of the Saudi British Bank and a shopping mall.
The blasts in the Red Sea port city occurred on the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States and as the pro-U.S. kingdom battles to stamp out al Qaeda-linked violence.
A U.S. official said Washington’s Jeddah consulate had closed its doors to the public for the rest of the day as a precaution but should be open on Sunday.
The Interior Ministry said one of the blasts occurred in a taxi and injured the driver, who it said had a record of using drugs. The driver had been placed under arrest, the ministry said in a statement.
“(The explosion) does not appear to be something big or dangerous. It may have been accidental,” said a security source, declining to be identified.
Another security source said police were searching for a man who had taken the driver to hospital and then disappeared.
Al Qaeda militants have been waging a campaign of suicide bombings and gun attacks for more than a year on foreigners, state buildings and oil sites in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to destabilise the kingdom and force out Westerners.
About 90 police and civilians have been killed.
The Saudi British Bank is 40 percent owned by HSBC Holdings. Saudi investors own the rest.