Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Saudi security forces kill eight in counter-terror operation

Saudi authorities said the eight suspects were killed on Saturday in the eastern region of Qatif

There have been a string of attacks in the Qatif area of eastern Saudi Arabia. Google Maps
There have been a string of attacks in the Qatif area of eastern Saudi Arabia. Google Maps

Saudi security forces killed eight members of a terrorist cell on Saturday in the eastern region of Qatif, state news agency Spa reported.

The recently-formed cell was preparing to carry out "terrorist" activities against the security of the country, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a state security spokesman.

The Shiite dominated oil-producing province is a regular flashpoint between the security forces and residents who have complained of discrimination and marginalisation.

The state security spokesman said the men were killed after they fired shots at security forces, who had surrounded a residential apartment in the Sanabis neighbourhood.

"They were called on to surrender, but they did not respond and opened fire at the security forces … which resulted in their killing," said the spokesman.

No civilians or security forces were injured in the operation, he said.

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province – which includes Qatif – has seen bouts of unrest since 2011 when protesters emboldened by the Arab uprisings took to the streets.

The demonstrators have demanded an end to what they say is discrimination by the Sunni-dominated government, a charge Riyadh denies.

One of the leaders of the protest movement, prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr, was executed in 2016 for terrorism.

Saudi security services regularly carry out operations in the area, with fatalities reported during operations in January and September, according to Saudi media.

Updated: May 12, 2019 01:49 PM

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