Middle East

Saudi man killed in police raid on Shia village

Map of Saudi Arabia showing location of Awamiya

A wanted Saudi man has been shot dead during a police raid in the country's predominantly Shia east, officials say.

An interior ministry spokesman said Abdul Rahim al-Faraj was suspected of killing security forces personnel.

Police were shot at when they raided his home in Awamiya on Wednesday evening and responded, it added.

Mr Faraj is reportedly the fifth member of his extended family to have been killed since protests by Shia against the Sunni monarchy erupted in 2011.

'Terrorist crimes'

The interior ministry spokesman told the official Saudi Press Agency that during Wednesday's raid in Eastern Province police were "exposed to heavy fire from unidentified people, necessitating a response in kind".

No bystanders or security personnel were wounded in the gunfight, he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tensions escalated after the execution of outspoken Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January

"Later, the security authorities were notified of the arrival of a deceased person as a result of a gunshot in the dispensary of Modhar Association in Awamiya," he added.

An identity check showed it was Abdul Rahim Faraj, who was suspected along with his brother Majid of involvement in a number of "terrorist crimes", including shooting dead several security personnel, the spokesman said.

They were also wanted for allegedly attacking citizens and public property, and for armed robbery.

Awamiya was the hometown of the prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed on terrorism-related charges earlier this year, drawing condemnation from Iran and its allies in the region.

Sheikh Nimr was an outspoken critic of the monarchy and backed protests by the Shia minority community, which has long complained of discrimination by the state and defamation of their beliefs by state-sanctioned clerics.

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