DUBAI: Two Saudi security officers and two people they were trying to detain were killed in a gunfight yesterday in the eastern town of Al Awamiya, the government said, an area where minority Shia Muslims have staged regular anti-government protests.
Shias in the region complain of discrimination, a charge denied by Sunni Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia.
Saudi opposition activists said security forces stormed a home in Awamiya belonging to the brother of a man on a list of 23 people wanted by the authorities over unrest, before shooting dead two unarmed men they found inside.
They said one of the two was the house owner’s 22-year-old son and the other a prominent local photographer known for documenting demonstrations and protester funerals that had taken place in the area over the past three years.
The wanted man was not in the house at the time, they said.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said security forces came under fire while trying to arrest “a number of armed troublemakers” who had previously fired on residents and security forces in Awamiya, according to state news agency SPA.
It said the security forces responded to the source of shooting in line with standing rules.
“As a result of the exchange of fire, the wanted men Ali Ahmed Al Faraj and Hussein Ali Madan Al Faraj were killed,” SPA said, adding that two security men had also died and two were wounded.
It said two pieces of weapons, a bullet-proof vest, a pair of binoculars used by snipers and a large amount of ammunition were found at the scene.
Local activists denied that there was any exchange of fire at the scene and said security forces burst into the house of a man in search of his wanted brother who was not there.