Civilian shot dead in attack on police in Saudi cleric's village

AFP , Monday 4 Jan 2016

Saudi Arabia
File Photo: Saudi Shia women (front) and men (back) take part in a protest in the eastern coastal city of Qatif against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Gunmen killed a civilian and wounded a child when they opened fire on Saudi police in the home village of executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, state media reported on Monday.

Police came under "heavy fire" during the attack on Sunday night in the eastern village of Awamiya, the birthplace of the cleric who was executed on Saturday, said the Saudi Press Agency.

The shooting left a civilian dead and wounded an eight-year-old child, said SPA, without specifying if any police were among the casualties.

Security forces were scouring the area for the assailants, the agency reported, citing a police spokesman in oil-rich Eastern Province.

The execution of 56-year-old Nimr has fuelled tensions in the Middle East, with Shia-majority countries expressing condemnation and the kingdom's diplomatic missions in Shia-dominated Iran coming under attack.

The assaults on the diplomatic missions spurred the Sunni-ruled kingdom to sever ties with Shia-dominated Iran, its long-time regional rival.

In recent years, the two countries have been divided over the war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime, and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shia rebels.

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