RIYADH: Unknown gunmen opened fire at a prison and police targets in Saudi Arabia’s Shia-populated Eastern Province, wounding a woman and her child, police and rights activists said
The gunmen carried out three separate shootings in two Shia towns on Saturday, provincial police spokesman Ziad
Al Rukaiti said.
“The prison in Qatif came under fire from an unknown source,” said Rukaiti, referring to the prison in the Shia town of Awamiya in the Qatif district.
Rukaiti said the shots directed at the prison were “followed by shooting at a police checkpoint” in Awamiya, and another shooting targeting a police patrol in a separate Shia town.
Rights activists confirmed that an 18-year-old woman and her two-year-old child “were wounded by random gunfire in Awamiya.”
Since early 2011, mainly Shia towns in Eastern Province have seen sporadic protests and confrontations between police and Shia residents who complain of marginalisation.
There are an estimated two million Shias in the Sunni-dominated kingdom of around 27.5 million people.
The unrest first erupted after violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the holy city of Medina in February 2011.
The protests escalated when Saudi Arabia led a force of Gulf troops into neighbouring Bahrain the following month to help crush Shia-led pro-democracy demonstrations in the tiny Sunni-ruled