Fourteen people, including 11 policemen and were hurt when riots erupted in a Shiite-majority village in eastern Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA said Tuesday, blaming the unrest on a “foreign country,” apparently referring to Shiite-ruled Iran.
“A group of outlaws and rioters on motorbikes gathered” at a roundabout in the village of Al-Awamia in Al-Qatif province on Monday “carrying petrol bombs,” SPA said, citing the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s interior ministry, Agence France-Presse reported.
The group carried out acts causing “insecurity with incitement from a foreign country that aims to undermine the nation’s security and stability,” SPA quoted a ministry spokesman as saying. “Security forces managed to deal with those traitors at the spot and after they were dispersed, machinegun fire erupted from a nearby neighborhood.” It said nine policemen were wounded in the gunfire and two hurt by petrol bombs. Three civilians were also wounded, it said.
Saudi Arabia described the unrest as a “blatant interference in its sovereignty.” “Those must clearly state whether their loyalty is to God then to their country, or to this country and its [religious] authority,” it added, referring to rival power Iran.
Saudi police arrested between 20 and 30 Shiites, including two bloggers, for allegedly taking part in protests in oil-rich Eastern Province, activists said in April. The arrests were made in Al-Qatif and nearby areas which witnessed demonstrations urging the release of prisoners and voicing solidarity with Bahraini Shiites, Associated Press reported. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia led a Gulf military force that intervened in Bahrain to help the ruling family quell the revolt.