DUBAI Oct 4 Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that
clashes on Monday night that injured 14 people in its oil-rich
Eastern province, home to a large Shi'ite population, were the
work of an unnamed foreign power, usually code for its rival
Oil traders said the news helped Brent oil prices LCOc1
pare some of the earlier losses on Tuesday with November
contracts rising by around $1 to above $101 per barrel.
Protests in the region in March, inspired in part by
uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, had sent global oil markets
The area is home to more than 2 million Shi'ites, some of
whom have called for better access to jobs and to be treated as
equals in the ultraconservative kingdom dominated by a rigid
form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism.
"A group of troublemakers... assembled... some on motorbikes
and carrying petrol bombs as they began their actions to disrupt
security at the behest of a foreign country which tried to
undermine the security of the homeland in a blatant act of
interference," an Interior Ministry statement said.
The mention of a foreign country meddling in local affairs
is usually a coded reference to Iran, the Shi'ite power and
Saudi rival across Gulf waters.
Of the total injured, 11 were security personnel and three
were civilians, the ministry statement said.
Qatif, a Shi'ite stronghold on the Gulf coast, and nearby
Awwamiya, are in the east which holds much of the oil wealth of
the world's top crude exporter and is near Bahrain, scene of
protests by majority Shi'ites against their Sunni rulers.
Police came under gunfire as they tried to disperse the
crowd. Nine policemen were shot and wounded and two hurt by
petrol bombs, the statement said. It also said one man and two
women were injured by gunfire.
(Reporting by Firouz Sedarat and Angus McDowall; Writing by