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One protester killed in Eastern Saudi Arabia
Dubai: Saudi security forces shot and killed one protester and wounded at least six others when they opened fire on a march in the oil-producing Eastern Province, home to a large Shi’ite minority, activists said on Friday. They said 21-year-old Muneer al-Meedani died from a bullet in the chest fired by police while dispersing demonstrators in the centre of the town of al-Qatif on Thursday. Saudi opposition websites said between six and 14 people were wounded. No Saudi officials were immediately available to comment on the report. Activists said Meedani was the sixth to be killed since November. Reuters Saudi Arabia has been spared the mass protests that have forced four Arab heads of state out of office, partly thanks to a generous financial package announced by the world’s largest oil exporter early last year. But the Eastern Province has witnessed sporadic demonstrations since March last year, and in November four people were killed, according to both the interior ministry and activists. Saudi Arabia is sensitive to any unrest in the Eastern Province because of what it says are concerns it could be fomented by non-Arab Shi’ite powerIran to destabilise the Gulf region. Protesters’ demands have focused on political reforms in the mainly Sunni kingdom to improve the conditions of the country’s Shi’ite minority, as well as the release of political prisoners. Online images and videos posted by activists on the Internet showed a young man they identified as Meedani smeared in blood moments after being shot. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the images. Activists said Meedani was the sixth to be killed since November. Security forces have arrested and released around 500 people over the prostests, and are currently holding 80 people behind bars, according to activist counts. In October Saudi Arabia blamed a foreign power, widely understood to mean Iran, for instigating an attack by protesters on a police station, where shots were fired and petrol bombs thrown.
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