Kuwait police on patrol (AFP Photo/Yasser al-Zayyat)

Kuwait City (AFP) – A suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque in the Kuwaiti capital during Friday prayers, killing at least 25 people and wounding many in an unprecedented attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The blast came on a day when at least 27 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Tunisian holiday resort and a suspected Islamist attacked a factory in eastern France after hanging a severed head from the gates.

Kuwait’s interior ministry said in a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency that hundreds were wounded in the mosque explosion.

“Twenty-five people have been martyred and 202 other wounded as a result of the blast at Al-Imam Al-Sadeq Mosque,” said the interior ministry statement.

The wounded were admitted to five public hospitals and were visited by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.

IS claimed Friday’s assault, the first bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and the first terror attack in the Gulf state since January 2006.

The IS-affiliated group in Saudi Arabia, calling itself Najd Province, said militant Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid bombed the mosque which it claimed was spreading Shiite teachings among Sunni Muslims.

IS, a radical Sunni Muslim group, considers Shiites to be heretics.

The Najd Province group has claimed similar bombings at Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.

Pictures circulating on social media showed several bloodied bodies and debris at the mosque in the capital Kuwait City.

A security official said “it is a suicide bombing”.

Witnesses gave a similar account, saying a suicide bomber entered the mosque during the weekly noon prayers.

An AFP photographer who arrived at the site after the bombing said the area was cordoned off by police.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, immediately visited the site, and footage on state-run Kuwait Television showed him visibly moved by the scenes of carnage.