News24

Saudi detained over Shi'ite unrest

2012-09-03 21:57

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia has detained a man accused by the authorities of taking part in attacks on police in an area populated mostly by minority Shi'ite Muslims, a government spokesperson said on Monday.

Hussein Hassan Al Rabieah was on a list of 23 men wanted in connection with disorder in the Qatif region in the east of the kingdom, where 11 people, including a member of the security forces, have been killed since November.

Shi'ites accuse the authorities of persistent discrimination against them and say some of the dead were shot during protests.

Riyadh, a close US ally and the world's top oil exporter, denies discriminating against Shi'ites and says all the killings resulted from exchanges of fire after police came under attack.

The Interior Ministry spokesperson, Major General Mansour Turki, said in a statement carried on state news agencies that investigations into recent shootings and armed robberies in Qatif had also pointed towards Rabieah's involvement.

"Based on what had become clear from the results of criminal investigations into a string of shooting crimes and armed robberies committed by a number of miscreants... these findings confirmed the involvement of... Rabieah," said Turki.

He said Rabieah had been caught on Sunday evening in the Qatif village of Awamiya in possession of a large quantity of drugs, and that he had been wounded in his feet during a gunfight in which a security man was also hurt.

Four other men on the wanted list that was issued in January have already turned themselves in.

The arrest in June of radical Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was also wounded during his capture, prompted several days of protests in Qatif in which two people were killed.

Saudi Shi'ites say they lack opportunities afforded to Sunni Muslims when applying for jobs or university places and that the authorities often close their places of worship.