Saudi Arabia officer killed by grenade, following 33 days of unrest in Shia majority province
A Saudi military officer was killed and two others were injured in al-Awamiya, east Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening, the country’s information ministry said.
Major Tareq bin Abdullatif al-Alaqi was killed by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on the thirty third day of unrest in the Shia-majority Qatif province.
There has been a spate of violence and civil disobedience in the town since authorities began demolishing the old Mosawara neighbourhood to make way for a new shopping district and office blocks.
Local activists complained that some buildings were hundreds of years old and should have been conserved to preserve the town’s cultural heritage.
The New Arab has seen footage of the Saudi authorities using RPGs and machine guns to suppress protests.
This is not the first time that Saudi officers have been killed in recent fighting.
In May, an RPG killed a police officer while two others were left injured in a roadside bomb just two weeks later.
Saudi Arabia's eastern province contains a large Shia community, many of whom feel persecuted by the ruling Sunni monarchy.
Since the wave of protests that swept through the Arab World in 2011 – typically called the Arab Spring – the region has witnessed sporadic outbreaks of violence pitting local protesters against the Saudi state.
Awamiyah was the home of Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed on terrorism charges by Riyadh on 2 January 2016.
Nimr backed democracy protests in 2011 which developed into a call for equality for the minority Shia community.
The cleric’s execution led to large displays of dissent and relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran deteriorated considerably.