Saudi preacher injured in Philippines gun attack

Gunman wounds Saudi Islamic preacher Sheikh Aaidh al Qarni in attack after lecture in Zamboanga city

Photo by:
Photo by:

Sheikh Aaidh al Qarni

An influential Saudi Arabian preacher was shot and wounded in a southern Philippine city on Tuesday, police said, adding security forces killed the gunman.

Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni was in hospital following the shooting in Zamboanga city but did not have life threatening injuries, local police spokeswoman Senior Inspector Helen Galvez said.

"He is out of danger," Galvez told Agence France Presse by phone.

A police report said that Qarni was shot in the right shoulder, left arm and chest while his companion, a Saudi embassy attache, was wounded in his right thigh and left leg.

However a Saudi embassy statement later said none of Qarni's companions were wounded.

The police said that Qarni had just delivered a university lecture when a man came out of the crowd and opened fire with a .45 calibre pistol.

Police acting as security escorts shot the attacker dead.

"We pinned down the gunman. He's dead," Galvez said.

She said the gunman was apparently a Filipino and that two other Filipino men, residents of Zamboanga, were later arrested after eyewitnesses said they were with the attacker.

But Galvez did not immediately identify the gunman.

"We still do not know what this group is or the motives of the gunman," she said.

The Saudi embassy in Manila confirmed the incident, stating Qarni was hit in the arm when a man approached his car and shot him as he left a conference.

He was visiting at the invitation of a local religious association, the embassy said.

The preacher was later flown to Manila on a plane made ​​available by the Saudi embassy, according to a statement.

Saudi media outlets described Qarni as a senior Islamic scholar. He has more than 12 million followers on Twitter.

In his book "Awakening Islam," the French academic Stephane Lacroix included Qarni among "the most famous" Saudi preachers.

Qarni's name was among those of a number of Saudi scholars listed by the DAESH terrorist group in the latest issue of Dabiq, its monthly online magazine, in an article entitled "Kill the Imams of Kufr."

It accused the scholars of apostasy, and called on "lone wolves" to act against them.