Middle East Updates / Interpol: ISIS Gains Support in Africa, Asia

U.S., allies target ISIS with 24 air strikes ; ISIS claims responsibility for Saudi Arabia mosque bombing; Four killed in foiled suicide attack at Shi'ite mosque in Saudi Arabia; 15 killed in Baghdad blasts, Iraq officials say.


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Latest updates:

10:54 P.M. Interpol: Islamic State group gains support in Africa, Asia

The head of Interpol says a growing number of extremist groups from Africa to southeast Asia are shifting their allegiance to the Islamic State group, leading to greater risks for "cross-pollination" among conflicts beyond Syria and Iraq and for access to resources for more sophisticated attacks abroad.

Juergen Stock cited this shift as an emerging trend at a UN Security Council meeting Friday along with changing travel methods being used by foreign fighters seeking to join groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Stock was a keynote speaker at the open council meeting attended by half a dozen ministers to assess progress in implementing a resolution adopted last September requiring all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join extremist groups. (AP)

6:06 P.M. U.S., allies target ISIS with 24 air strikes 

The U.S.-led coalition conducted 20 air strikes in Iraq and four in Syria targeting Islamic State militants since early on Thursday, the Combined Joint Task Force leading the air operations said. 

In Iraq, air strikes carried out using attack, fighter, bomber and drone aircraft struck near Baghdadi, Bayji, Falluja, Makhmur, Ramadi, Sinjar and Tal Afar, the task force said in a statement Friday. 

In Syria, air strikes carried out using bomber and fighter aircraft struck near Al Hasakah and Kobani, it said. (Reuters)

3:10 P.M. ISIS claims responsibility for Saudi Arabia mosque bombing

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for an attack on Friday on a Shi'ite mosque in Saudi Arabia's Dammam in which four people were killed.

A statement by Islamic State posted on Twitter named the suicide bomber who carried out the attack as Abu Jandal al-Jizrawi, saying he had managed to reach his target despite heightened security. (Reuters)

1:33 P.M. Three killed in Saudi Arabia after suicide bomber tries to enter Shi'ite mosque

Three people were killed on Friday when a sucide bomber tried to enter a Shi'ite Muslim mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, witnesses said, the second attack of its kind in a week.

A witness identified only as Ahmed said he was with his family near the al-Anoud Mosque when "a quick explosion" happened. He did not know the cause of the blast.

He said acquaintances at the mosque told him a man was killed along with a bomber when the man tried to prevent him from reaching the building.

Another witness said a passer-by was also killed in the blast. (Reuters)

12:56 P.M. Sunni militia clashes with Shi'ite Houthis in southern Yemen city of Aden

Heavy fighting erupted in southern Yemen near Aden airport on Friday when a Sunni Muslim militia attacked Shi'ite Houthi rebels in a push to drive Houthis from the district, residents and fighters said.

Saudi-led forces also made four air strikes on a military base near the airport, a source in the southern militia told Reuters.

A Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in Yemen on March 26 in a campaign to restore Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. He fled in March, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in September and then thrust into central and south Yemen.

The fighting in Khor Maksar has killed four southern militia fighters and 15 Houthis so far, the militia source said.

Intense air raids by the Arab alliance were also reported overnight by residents of Saada province, which borders Saudi Arabia in northwestern Yemen. Raids also targeted a weapons storage site in Sanaa, said residents. (Reuters)

11:14 A.M. 15 killed in Baghdad blasts, Iraq officials say

Authorities in Iraq have raised the death toll from bombings that targeted two top hotels in Baghdad to 15 people, with another 42 wounded.

The double attack occurred late Thursday when two separate car bombs went off in the parking lots of the Cristal, formerly Sheraton, and Babil hotels.

Initial reports said 10 people were killed and 27 wounded, but the casualty figures rose overnight.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Nobody claimed responsibility, but Iraq witnesses almost daily attacks that have been frequently claimed by the Islamic State group — which seized large swaths of the country during a blitz last year. (AP)