Saudi forces kill protester
Published Friday, January 13, 2012
Saudi security forces fired live ammunition on unarmed Shia protesters in the kingdom's oil-rich east at dawn on Friday killing one person and wounding three, witnesses and activists said.
Security forces shot at protesters after several of them hurled stones at one of their vehicles in the village of Al-Awamiya in the Qatif region, witnesses said.
Activists said Issam Mohammed, 22, was killed by multiple bullet wounds.
Three other people were wounded by security force fire, one of them a man driving through a checkpoint at the entrance to the village, the activists said.
Security forces sealed off the village after the clashes, witnesses said.
Saudi Arabia has moved to quell protests in the Eastern Province, which have been ongoing since Riyadh sent troops into neighboring Bahrain – a majority Shia state ruled by a Sunni minority – to crush a pro-democracy uprising last March.
The kingdom's Shia minority have taken to the streets in solidarity with Bahrain's pro-democracy protesters, while also demanding an end to discrimination.
Riyadh fears the spread of the Arab Spring movement to the Gulf region could threaten the power of the kingdom's autocratic monarchy.
The pro-democracy protests have already toppled three regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
The latest killing adds to the four demonstrators shot dead by Saudi forces in November.
The interior ministry said security forces had come under fire from gunmen operating on "foreign orders," in a veiled accusation against arch-rival Iran.
A total of 400 people were arrested, of whom around 70 remain in custody, according to activists.
Most of Saudi Arabia's estimated two million Shia live in the Eastern Province.
They complain of marginalization and discrimination in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.