Manama: Security forces at the Grand Mosque in Makkah said that the man they had arrested next to the Kaaba on Monday evening was trying to kill himself and not attempting to set the sacred cubic structure ablaze as reported.
The man, identified by the security forces as a Saudi national in his 40s, was dousing himself in gasoline when he was caught, Major Sameh Al Salmi, the spokesman for the forces said.
"He was held before he went on with his dramatic self-immolation act and his behaviour indicates that he is mentally ill. All the necessary measures will be taken," the spokesman said, quoted by Saudi news site Sabq.
Previous reports quoted a Saudi man saying that he spotted a man who was spilling gas on the Kaaba.
"As I was circling the Kaaba at around 11:40pm on Monday, I saw a man pouring gasoline from a bottle on Kaaba and uttering takfiri expressions [pronouncing that someone or something is un-Islamic]," Ghazi Darweesh said.
"I immediately held him and called for assistance from the people around me. The security men rushed to the scene and took him away."
Kaaba is central for all Muslims who are required to look its direction when they perform their prayers five times a day, and during the haj or Umrah, pilgrims walk counterclockwise around it seven times.
Muslims believe the Kaaba was originally built by Abraham and Ishmael who also placed the sacred black stone in one of its corners.