DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi security forces on Tuesday killed a suspect wanted on terrorism charges during a raid on a village in the country’s oil-producing Eastern Province, the state news agency SPA said.
The raid took place in Awamiya, home town of a prominent Shi‘ite Muslim cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution in January prompted angry protests in the area against the ruling Al Saud dynasty.
A Saudi interior ministry statement identified the suspect as Ali Mahmoud Ali Abdullah, a Bahraini national, and said he was killed during a gun battle. He was wanted for taking part in “terrorist crimes”, the ministry added.
A resident said more than a dozen armored vehicles had entered the town and a video apparently recorded by local residents and distributed online appeared to show burning tires, automatic rifle fire and smoke rising above houses.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.
The resident said a South Asian expatriate worker had been killed during the raid when he was hit by an armored vehicle and that 26 other people had been injured. The comments could not immediately confirmed.
Qatif has been the focal point of unrest among Saudi Arabia’s Shi‘ites since protests in early 2011 calling for an end to discrimination against the minority sect and for democratic reforms in the Sunni Muslim monarchy.
Saudi authorities executed al-Nimr last month along with three other Shi‘ites and 43 members of al Qaeda, all on charges of terrorism. The execution of al-Nimr further worsened Saudi Arabia’s already poor relations with Shi‘ite Iran, its regional arch rival.
Reporting By Noah Browning and Ali Abdelatti; Editing by Gareth Jones