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Several wounded in WWI memorial attack at Saudi cemetery

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A bomb on Wednesday struck a World War I commemoration attended by European diplomats in the Saudi city of Jeddah, France said, leaving several people wounded amid Muslim anger over French cartoons.

[JEDDAH] A bomb on Wednesday struck a World War I commemoration attended by European diplomats in the Saudi city of Jeddah, France said, leaving several people wounded amid Muslim anger over French cartoons.

The attack at a non-Muslim cemetery is the second assault in the kingdom in less than a month, as French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to assuage anger across Muslim nations over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

"The annual ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, attended by several consulates, including that of France, was the target of an IED (improvised explosive device) attack this morning, which injured several people," France's foreign ministry said.

"France strongly condemns this cowardly, unjustifiable attack."

Saudi Arabia's state TV said authorities have secured the cemetery adding that traffic was normal in the area. Ekhbaria TV showed footage of the streets around the non-Muslim cemetery and said the situation was stable.

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Last month, a Saudi citizen with a knife wounded a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah on the same day that a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church in Nice in southern France.

The French embassy in Riyadh has urged its nationals in Saudi Arabia to exercise "extreme vigilance".

Wednesday's blast came as Mr Macron, the target of ire in much of the Muslim world for vowing to confront Islamist radicalism following a spate of attacks, attended a WWI memorial ceremony in Paris.

Several countries are marking the 102nd anniversary of the armistice signed by Germany and Allied countries to end the war.

Mr Macron has vigorously defended the right to publish cartoons viewed as offensive by some, including caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The same cartoons were shown by French history teacher Samuel Paty to pupils in a class on free speech, leading to his beheading outside Paris on October 16 following an online campaign by parents angry over his choice of lesson material.

Mr Macron's stance angered many Muslims, prompting protests in several countries at which portraits of the French president were burnt, and a campaign to boycott French products.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia - home to Islam's holiest sites - has criticised the cartoons, saying it rejected "any attempt to link Islam and terrorism" but it stopped short of condemning the French leadership.

Riyadh also "strongly" condemned last month's attack in Nice.

On Tuesday, Macron hosted a summit of European leaders to plot a joint approach to combating Islamist radicalism after four people were killed in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna last week.

AFP, REUTERS

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