Kuwait City: At least 25 people were killed and at least 202 others wounded on Friday in a suicide bomb attack on a Shia masjid which the Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for, media reports said.
The blast rocked the Imam Al-Sadeq Masjid, located in the busy neighbourhood of al-Sawabir of the capital city, Xinhua reported citing the official Kuwait News Agency.
Kuwait's interior ministry said that 25 people were killed and at least 202 others were injured in the blast, which occurred when a large number of Muslims were offering Friday prayers inside the masjid.
Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited the masjid, located just a few buildings away from the country's interior ministry.
An emergency session of parliament has also been called, an Al Jazeera report said.
Meanwhile, Saad al-Ajmi, Kuwait's former information minister, told Al Jazeera that the attack was a reminder that no country was "immune from terrorism".
Ajmi said Kuwait had "a good record" in its relationship between Sunni and Shia groups, and was a small country with good security without widespread dissent.
However, if a group was responsible, he said: "I think that those who want to tip the whole region ablaze in a sectarian war would be behind this attack because that is their agenda."
The attack was designed to threaten national security, and break national unity, said Yaaqoub al-Sanae, Kuwait's minister of Awqaf and Islamic affairs.
"Kuwait will remain an oasis of security for all groups of Kuwaiti society and all sects. The government is taking many procedures to protect prayers and mosques," al-Sanea told Kuwait's state news agency KUNA.
The explosion was the first suicide bombing attack on a Shia masjid in the Gulf Arab state, where Sunnis and Shia live side by side with little apparent friction.
If proven to be true, then it was not the first time for the IS group to plot and carry out such attacks against Shia masajid. It has claimed responsibility for bombings at two different Shia mosques in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.
On March 20, IS suicide bombers also attacked two masajid in Yemen's capital Sanaa and Houthi headquarters in the northern Saada province, killing at least 137 people in the attacks, the most deadliest in Yemen for decades.
Casualties were expected to grow as Friday prayers have always been the most attended of the week, while the number of people joining the prayers would increase during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that started on June 18 in the Gulf countries.