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.
Abdollahian and Ban spoke on the sidelines of an international conference in Kuwait aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, IRNA reported.
United Nations experts reported to the U.N. Security Council, thousands of people from some 100 countries in Syria and Iraq, there were also 6,500 in Afghanistan and hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.
The operation by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states is aimed at stopping the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh winning control of the country and at reinstating Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, nuclear talks to merit staying until Wednesday.
The negotiators ended talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the early hours of Wednesday and said they would reconvene later in the day, with Iran and Russia expressing optimism that an initial agreement was within reach.
The Mazraq camp for displaced people near Haradh was struck on Monday, humanitarian workers said. Some 200 people were wounded, dozens of them seriously, the International Organization for Migration said.
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Tuesday pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid to help ease the crisis in Syria.
Syrian state television put the number killed at 44 and said 21 others had been wounded in the attack on Mabouja, a 60-km (40 mile) drive east of Hama. A Syrian military source said the army had repelled the assault on Tuesday.
A strike early on Tuesday near Sanaa airport blew a large crater in a group of five houses, witnesses said. There were no casualties, suggesting the buildings had been empty since a deadly raid in the same area last week.
Aiming to seal preliminary deal by Tuesday midnight with diplomats fear opportunity will be lost if no deal today
Explosions and heavy gunfire was heard in the Shida and al-Hisama districts of Saada province and near the town of Haradh in neighbouring Hajja province.
fState TV says tons of food and medical supplies have been airlifted to Shiite militant group.
"Iran and Saudi Arabia can cooperate to solve the Yemeni crisis," Abdollahian told reporters in Kuwait, speaking through a translator. "We recommend all parties in Yemen return to calm and dialogue".
In a statement, the independent aid agency "called for the urgent removal of obstacles to the delivery to Yemenof vital medical supplies needed to treat casualties from a week of deadly clashes and air strikes".
Egypt Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Egypt was in contact with Saudi Arabia and Oman in an effort to ease the return of Egyptian nationals from Yemen.