Middle East

Saudi security forces kill four militants in restive east

Saudi Arabia

Saudi security forces have killed four militants in a raid in al-Awamiya in the country's east, officials said.

The interior ministry said the men were behind the killing of a soldier there last Sunday.

Al-Awmiya lies in the Eastern Province, home to a large and increasingly restive Shia population.

The Sunni Saudi authorities deny discriminating against Shia citizens and blame Iran for stirring up discontent.

The soldier was killed when his unit came under fire from fields near al-Awamiya last Sunday. His colleague was also injured.

The "primary suspect" in the shooting of the soldier was among those killed, the interior ministry said.

Restive region

Most of Saudi Arabia's minority Shia population lives in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

More than 20 people have been killed there since protests began in early 2011.

Hundreds have been arrested and at least 300 are reportedly in custody.

Several have also been sentenced to death after being accused of sedition and rioting.

Shia activists allege that the Sunni government routinely discriminates against them.

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