Manama: A Saudi national arrested in a mosque-storming operation for twin murders has reportedly said that he killed the first man for smoking and the second for being unfit to lead prayers.

The admissions were recorded by the police as they investigated the detainee, who allegedly suffers from mental problems, shortly after his arrest, Saudi Arabic daily Al Watan reported on Wednesday.

“He confessed that he killed the first man because he saw him smoke a cigarette, although smoking is haram,” a source told the daily. “He said that he killed the second man inside the mosque because he did not deserve to call to prayers or to lead worshippers in the mosque,” an unidentified source said.

Al Ghassala area in Madinah in western Saudi Arabia was rocked on Monday by news that a Saudi man, 32, fatally shot two men, a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi, as he walked to the mosque to offer the Asr (afternoon) prayers.

According to local reports, the Saudi man left his home after he heard the call to prayer and made his way to the neighbourhood mosque.

Shot from close range

However, as he headed to the mosque, and with no apparent reason, he hit a Pakistani man with a stick on the head and then shot him from close range with a gun he was carrying.

Inside the mosque, he shot a Bangladeshi man waiting to perform the group prayers, kept his lifeless body inside and locked the doors.

The Saudi used the microphone and loudspeakers to call once more for the Asr prayers, causing bewilderment and concern among the inhabitants of the Ghassala neighbourhood, the reports said.

Under Islamic traditions, mosques call for a specific prayer only once.

The police were eventually called in and the mosque was put under siege while security men attempted to persuade the Saudi killer to leave without further harm.

Efforts by relatives to have the 32-year-old Saudi surrender also failed after he refused to speak with anyone, according to the Saudi media reports.

Killer apprehended

Following a four-hour siege, servicemen from a special security force unit stormed the mosque and apprehended the killer.

Crowds of onlookers who had gathered outside the mosque erupted in cheers and applause as he was taken, handcuffed, by the police.

According to local Arabic daily Okaz, psychiatrists will now determine the degree of his sanity.

Witnesses reportedly said that the Saudi national has been suffering from mental problems for years and that he was undergoing treatment at a local specialist hospital.

A witness said that he noticed abnormal behaviour earlier in the day.

“Following the fajr [dawn] prayers, he silenced a man who was giving a short lecture to worshippers in the mosque,” the witness told the newspaper. “We are aware that he is being treated for his mental health. He had a wife, but they divorced two years ago when his case worsened.”

The Ghassala neighbourhood where the two crimes occurred was also the scene of the murder of a Saudi national by a young Kuwaiti man following a heated argument last year. It was also in this area that a husband killed his wife and her brother. The murderer was executed last month, the daily said.