Saudi arrests three over abduction of Shia cleric

AFP , Sunday 1 Jan 2017

Saudi Arabia has detained three people and is searching for three others in connection with the December abduction of a Shiite cleric, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Jirani, a judge, was abducted mid-December in a village in the Shiite-majority eastern district of Qatif, a centre of minority unrest since 2011 in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

State television has reported Jirani was critical of the unrest.

Authorities have arrested three people who had been watching the judge before his abduction and an investigation allowed them to "identify three criminals who are directly implicated", the ministry said in a statement.

It called on the abductors to "immediately free" Jirani and said anybody with knowledge about the suspects who did not come forward would be prosecuted.

Shiites in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province have long complained of marginalisation.

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