Performers wounded in knife attack on stage in Saudi Arabia

International

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Two men and a woman were wounded in a knife attack Monday evening as they performed on stage in a park in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, marking the first such incident since the kingdom began loosening restrictions on entertainment.

Saudi broadcaster al-Ekhbariya reported that police detained the suspect, who was identified only as a 33-year-old Yemeni male resident of Saudi Arabia. The state-owned news channel aired footage of security as they ran on stage to capture the suspect.

Other state-linked media outlets shared footage online that appeared to show the attack. In the video, a man is seen running on stage and apparently attacking the performers from behind as the troupe, dressed in gold ensembles, performs a dance.

Al-Ekhbariya reported the three performers wounded in the attack are in stable condition. The broadcaster did not identify their nationalities.

The motive for the attack remains unclear. Saudi Arabia has been at war in Yemen since early 2015. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and created a devastating humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the kingdom has been rapidly transforming under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose reform agenda clipped the powers of Saudi Arabia’s vice and virtue police after years of ultraconservative restrictions on entertainment, music and movies in Saudi Arabia.

The 34-year-old prince, with the support of his father King Salman, has pushed to open Saudi Arabia to tourism and backed widespread social reforms aimed in part at boosting domestic spending and the economy. The reforms, while controversial among many in the Muslim country, have not led to widespread public backlash by conservatives for whom loyalty to the country’s rulers is also seen as a religious duty.

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This story has been corrected to show attack occurred Monday not Sunday.

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