JEDDAH: Saudi police close a street leading to a non-Muslim cemetery where a bomb struck a World War I commemoration yesterday. - AFP

JEDDAH: A bomb blast struck a World War I commemoration ceremony attended by Western diplomats in the Saudi city of Jeddah yesterday, leaving at least two people wounded, officials said. The attack at a non-Muslim cemetery was the second targeting diplomatic missions in recent weeks, after a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah was injured by a Saudi citizen armed with a knife. The Makkah governorate said the attack caused two injuries - a Greek consulate employee and a Saudi guard. A British citizen was also believed to have been wounded.

Kuwait's ministry of foreign affairs expressed yesterday Kuwait's strong condemnation of the cowardly attack. The ministry said such acts that target the innocent represent images of violence and extremism and violate all religions and civil laws. The ministry affirmed Kuwait's full solidarity and support with Saudi Arabia, including support to all measures it takes to maintain security and stability, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

The latest incident came as French President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought to assuage anger in Muslim nations over satirical cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), attended a WWI memorial ceremony in Paris. Diplomats from France, Greece, Italy, Britain and the United States were involved in the Armistice Day commemoration ceremony in the Red Sea port city, according to a joint statement from their embassies which condemned the "cowardly attack".

"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. A Greek policeman residing in the kingdom was among those wounded, a Greek diplomatic source told AFP.

"A Saudi policeman was also slightly wounded", state-owned Ekhbariya television added, citing the governor of Makkah region, where Jeddah is located. "(Saudi) security services will launch an investigation into an incident of aggression during a gathering of a number of consuls in Jeddah," Ekhbariya said.

The bomb triggered panic as it went off while the French consul was delivering a speech at the ceremony, according to eyewitness Nadia Chaaya. "At the end of the speech we heard an explosion. We didn't quite understand it at first, but we then realized that we were the target," Chaaya told France's BFMTV. "We were panicking and feared there could be a second explosion. We left the cemetery and went out into the street and everyone went their separate ways."

While condemning the "shameful" attack, the embassies of the countries involved in the commemoration lauded "brave Saudi first responders who assisted those at the scene". Roads leading up to the cemetery in central Jeddah were blocked by Saudi traffic police, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

The French consulate in Jeddah, in a statement seen by Reuters, urged its nationals in Saudi Arabia to use "maximum vigilance" following the attack. "In particular, exercise discretion, stay away from all gatherings and be cautious when moving around," said the statement, which was emailed to French residents in Jeddah. The French embassy in the UAE also called on residents there to stay vigilant. Several countries are marking the 102nd anniversary of the armistice signed by Germany and Allied countries to end the war. - Agencies