World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two men had been killed after protests in a Shi'ite Muslim area in the eastern part of the world's top oil exporter, following the arrest of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.
A key U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia has largely escaped the kind of protests that have toppled four heads of state since last year, but the mostly Shi'ite Qatif region of the Eastern Province has been the focal point of sporadic demonstrations alleging discrimination.
A statement from an Interior Ministry spokesman said the deaths followed a protest in the village of Awamiya over the arrest of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, but said there was no clash between protesters and police.
"Security authorities had been notified by a nearby medical center on the arrival of four individuals brought in by their relatives," Major General Mansour Turki, the spokesman, said in a comment sent to Reuters.
"Two of them were dead, the other two were slightly injured. Competent authorities initiated investigations in the incident."
Shi'ite activists and websites had also reported that at least two men had been killed in the protests. The Rasid website named the men as Akbar al-Shakhouri and Mohamed al-Felfel.
"In the aftermath of the arrest ... a limited number of people have assembled in the town of Awamiya," the Interior Ministry statement said. "Gun shots have been overheard in random areas of the town. However, there was no security confrontation whatsoever."
Nimr, seen as a leading cleric, was hurt in an accident as security forces chased his car, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday, adding that he was accused of "sedition".
Activists from the Eastern Province, where most of Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites live, posted pictures on the Internet of a grey-bearded man they identified as Nimr inside a vehicle.
He was covered with what appeared to be a blood-stained white blanket.
Shi'ites say they struggle to get government jobs or university places, that their neighbourhoods suffer under-investment, and that their places of worship are often closed down. The government denies charges of discrimination.
Aid campaign run by Turkish Red Crescent draws large attention at home and abroad
OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries agreed to cap production from January 1 to end a global glut that has hammered prices, but doubts remain about implementation before data is released at the end of the month.
The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had appealed against a lower court ruling in June that found the controversial border demarcation agreement was illegal.
Yemen's Saudi-backed government rejected earlier peace plan proposed by envoy
At least 180 ISIL targets also destroyed as part of Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish military says
US, Jordan, Saudi Arabia declare support for Operation Euphrates Shield
A suspect hoax has forced an emergency landing in Kuwait by Eurowings
Iran has seen a rise in oil exports and increased investment in manufacturing since it came into force however Iran has accused Washington of not keeping to their side of the agreement
A week-long assault by government forces and their allies aims to expel the Iran-backed Huthis from Dhubab region, close to the Bab al-Mandab strait linking the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Violating Turkish-Russian cease-fire deal, regime forces hit marketplace in Idlib province
Ibrahim Halawa’s trial postponed 17 times since arrest in 2013
So-called Syrian Democratic Forces is comprised largely of PKK terror elements alongside token Arab force
Israel often targets positions linked to the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Earlier Friday, the army had advanced in Wadi Barada, taking the village of Baseema under heavy fire, the Observatory said.
Russia and Turkey have spearheaded a shaky ceasefire in Syria, which Moscow and Ankara hope will lead to Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan beginning on January 23.
Turkish, Russian militaries coordinate respective air operations to avoid mishaps, Turkish defense minister says