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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Saudi police find body of kidnapped judge

The remains of Sheikh Mohammed Al Jirani were found on a farm in Awamiya

A Saudi police officer and a wanted militant were killed in a shoot-out in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, where the authorities recovered the body of a kidnapped judge.

The remains of Sheikh Mohammed Al Jirani were found on a farm in Awamiya, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Monday.

A DNA test confirmed that the body was of Sheikh Jirani, who was kidnapped in December 2016 in front of his home in Awamiya.

A spokesman said that the raid took place last Tuesday, adding that three suspects were arrested at the time.

“Investigations conducted by the authorities … confirmed that those who abducted [Sheikh Jirani] killed him and hid his body in an abandoned farm,” he said.

The judge, who is considered close to the authorities, had been the target of a number of attacks before his abduction.

In 2011, his house and car were set on fire and members of his family barely escaped the flames. In 2012, armed men again attacked his home but failed to capture him.

Sheikh Jirani was critical of fellow Shiites in the kingdom and had accused some clerics of being too close to Iran and Iraq.

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Since 2011, Saudi security forces have occasionally been attacked in Awamiya, where some residents have accused the government of marginalisation — something Riyadh denies.

Authorities have been bulldozing Al Masoura, a historic neighbourhood with narrow streets dating back more than 200 years, to make way for an urban renewal project. The demolitions prompted armed clashes between militants and security forces.

Local officials say wanted “terrorists” believed to be behind attacks on security forces have been using the narrow streets to escape arrest.

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