Attack on Saudi police patrol wounds two in restive eastern province

Attack on Saudi police patrol wounds two in restive eastern province
An attack on a Saudi police patrol wounded two officers in the Shia majority eastern province of Qatif, authorities said on Saturday.
2 min read
08 July, 2017
This is the third attack on officers in the area [AFP]

Two officers were wounded after an attack on a Saudi police patrol in the Shia-majority eastern province of Qatif on Saturday, authorities said, in the third attack in the area in one week.

The injured policemen were transferred to nearby hospitals, authorities confirmed, a statement said, confirming the attack was being treated as a “terrorist crime”.

"The patrol was targeted by an explosive projectile when passing by a building under construction in the al-Naserah district in Qatif," the interior ministry said in a statement published on the official SPA news agency.

The attack occurred in the same area where a police corporal was killed in a bombing targeting a patrol on Thursday.

On Tuesday, another policeman had been killed and three others wounded in a bombing in Qatif.

Three people, including a police officer, were also killed last month in bombings in Qatif, where most of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia's Shia minority lives.

The region has been rocked by unrest since 2011, when Shia protests erupted to demand equality in the Gulf kingdom.

Authorities have blamed the unrest on "terrorists" and drug traffickers.

In May, bulldozers began demolishing al-Awamiya's historic district, with plans to tear down several hundred homes, as officials allege it has become a hideout for local militants.

The destruction sparked shoot-outs in the streets between Saudi security forces and Shia gunmen and stoked sectarian tensions that resonate around the region.

The violence in al-Awamiya, which is centered in the Sunni kingdom's oil-rich east coast, adds a new source of instability at a time of increasing confrontation in the Gulf.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and its Shia-led rival Iran have spiked in recent weeks, with the kingdom and its allies severing ties with neighbouring Qatar, demanding among other things that it cut ties with Iran.