Two men were killed during renewed Shiite protests in the east of Saudi Arabia, as police exchanged fire with gunmen who “infiltrated” the funeral of another protester, the interior ministry said Thursday. According to AFP, it said the new deaths late Wednesday brought to four the death toll of protests that started on Monday in the Eastern Province, while nine others were hurt, including two policemen and a woman, SPA state news agency.
“These casualties were sustained during exchange of fire with unknown criminals who infiltrated citizens and opened fire from residential areas,” it said.
The ministry claimed that “a number of security checkpoints and vehicles have since Monday been increasingly coming under gunfire attacks in the Qatif region by assailants motivated by foreign orders.” “Security forces have been exercising self restraint as much as possible,” it said, adding that two citizens were killed and six others, including two policemen “who received gun shots,” were wounded. “Several incidents of fire exchange took place during the funeral of one of those … which caused the death of two citizens and wounded three others,” it added.
Medics had confirmed late Wednesday reports by witnesses and activists that two Shiites were shot dead during the funeral. They were identified as Ali Abdullah Al Qarayrees, 26, from Awamiya town, and Munib al-Sayyed Al-Adnan, 20, from Shweika. They “were shot by security forces during demonstrations,” witnesses said.
Medics had said Ali al-Felfel, 24, died Monday of gun injuries after police opened fire at protesters who had taken to the streets in response to the death of 19-year-old Nasser al-Mheishi. Last month, 14 people, including 11 policemen, were hurt during clashes with security forces and demonstrators in the same area.