Saudi Arabia has announced it foiled a plan to bomb an international football match in the western city of Jeddah. Islamic State (Isis) militants had plotted to detonate a car bomb at a World Cup qualifying game between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in October 2018, said a spokesperson for the kingdom.

The authorities also announced that they have thwarted a second plot directed by Isis to murder security officials near Riyadh. Eight suspects were arrested from two "terrorist cells", officials said. Among them are Saudi nationals, two Pakistanis, a Syrian and a Sudanese, according to the Saudi interior ministry.

The ministry has published a list of more suspects wanted for their alleged involvement in planning attacks in the eastern cities of Qatif and Dammam. Saudi Arabia has been the target of several attacks by Isis. In July, a suicide bomber killed four security officers and injured five others near the holy city of Medina.

The bomber detonated his bomb after being stopped outside the Prophet's Mosque. The mosque is the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad. Medina is the holiest city in Islam after Mecca. The attack took place in Ramadan when the city was more crowded than usual.

Suicide blasts also struck two other Saudi cities in July. Meanwhile, according to the interior ministry, during June there were 26 "terror attacks" in the kingdom.

Terrorism remains widespread. The individual terror groups that have been active in Saudi Arabia since the millennium so far include Huthi extremists (104 victims); Al Qua'ida in Saudi Arabia (62); Al Qua'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (38); Najd Province of the Islamic State (30); and Hijaz Province of the Islamic State (18).

Hajj 2016
Muslim pilgrims pray during Friday prayers at the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia Ahmed Jadallah/ Reuters