DUBAI (Reuters) - A wanted person has been fatally wounded during an operation by Saudi security forces in eastern Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said on Sunday, in the second incident of its kind since Friday.
Residents said that a 16-year-old youth died in the raid on Saturday morning targeting wanted people in Awamiya, a restive town in the Qatif district, where many of the country’s Shi‘ite Muslim minority live.
The interior ministry said security forces came under fire while pursuing wanted men who had been hiding in houses vacated by inhabitants to pave the way for a development project intended to revamp the area.
“Security men came under heavy gunfire at the Musawara neighbourhood from an unknown source, which required an appropriate response,” the statement, carried by state news agency SPA said.
“As a result, Walid Talal Ali al-Arayedh, who is wanted by security authorities, was wounded and taken to a hospital where he later died.”
Residents reached by telephone said Arayedh was a bystander in the area when he was fatally shot and taken to a hospital by his family, where he died. They said at least seven other people were wounded in the raid, while wanted men managed to escape.
Activists posted video and audio recordings of heavy automatic fire and images of vehicles riddled with bullets from the raid, which they said lasted for about three hours. The authenticity of the recordings could not immediately be verified.
On Friday, SPA reported that security forces killed Mustafa Ali Abdullah al-Madad, who was wanted by security forces for “a number of terror crimes against the citizens and security personnel” in Qatif governorate.
Awamiya was the home town of prominent Shi‘ite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution in January last year prompted angry protests against the ruling Al Saud dynasty and led to Saudi Arabia cutting off relations with Iran.
Qatif in Eastern province 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 reforms in the Sunni Muslim monarchy. Saudi Arabia denies any discrimination against Shi‘ites.
Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Stephen Powell