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Kuwait mourns 'martyrs' as police round up suspects

Nearly 20 suspected accomplices to a suicide bombing at a Kuwait mosque have been arrested by local police. All victims were to be honored and buried together in a show of solidarity with the country's Shiite minority.

Following a massive hunt for anyone connected to Friday's suicide attack on a mosque in the capital, Kuwaiti police told the press on Saturday that they were investigating an unspecified number of apprehended suspects - including one man who allegedly owned the van which brought the bomber to the mosque.

"Security agencies will track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible," said a statement from the interior ministry.

"We will cut the evil hand that interferes with our homeland's security," added Sheikh Mohammed al Khaled al Sabah, the interior minister.

According to state news agency Kuna, at least 18 suspects were arrested in connection with the bombing in a Shiite mosque which killed 27 and injured over 270 people during a prayer service. Shiite Muslims make up around 30 percent of Kuwait's population, and until now have enjoyed relative peace and stability despite the ongoing regional conflicts.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group, a Sunni jihadist organization which considers Shiites heretics.

The Kuwaiti government has named Saturday as a national day of mourning in a sign of solidarity with the minority group.

A mass funeral for the dead was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Kuwait City's Grand Mosque. Mosque authorities said the service for "Kuwait martyrs" would be followed by a burial in the Shiite cemetery west of the capital. They announced that condolences would be accepted for three days, beginning on Saturday.

In response to the attack, security has been beefed up throughout Kuwait around Shiite mosques and in the country's oil-producing areas.

es/ng (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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