Saudi suspect found dead after gunfight in Shiite town

Accused armed rober turns up dead in a clinic.

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RIYADH // A man wanted by Saudi authorities has been found dead after a police raid and exchange of gunfire in a Shiite town, the interior ministry said Thursday.

The dead man, Abdul-Rahim al-Faraj, and his brother Majid al-Faraj were wanted for allegedly shooting at security forces, some of whom were killed, for attacking civilians and public property and for armed robbery. In a statement, the ministry said police came under fire on Wednesday night while searching the suspects’ home in the Eastern Province town of Awamiya.

Officers returned fire during the incident which coincided with iftar, when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

No police or bystanders were hurt during the gunfight, but a local clinic later notified security officers that it was in possession of the body of a man who died from a gunshot. He was subsequently identified as Abdul-Rahim Al-Faraj.

Police seized firearms and ammunition from the suspects’ home and were continuing to hunt for Faraj’s brother Majid.

Eastern Province is home to most of Saudi Arabia’s Shiites, who have long complained of marginalisation in the Sunni-dominated kingdom. Awamiya, a town of about 30,000, has been the scene of repeated incidents since 2011, when a wave of protests began among Shiites demanding reform. The latest shooting comes as tensions remain just overhigh in neighbouring Sunni-ruled Bahrain, where there has been an escalating crackdown on the Shiite majority, just over the causeway from Eastern Province.

A resident in the Shiite-dominated district of Qatif, which includes Awamiya, said armoured vehicles have been deployed at checkpoints.

*Agence France Presse