Story highlights

Security forces were trying to arrest a man when they were fired upon, says state-run media

Activists say man was standing in front of his home when security forces started shooting

CNN —  

Two people have been killed and two others were injured after Saudi security forces opened fire on a group of Shi’ites in the restive eastern town of Awamiya, Saudi Arabia.

The security forces opened fire after the group shot first, Interior Ministry Spokesman Mansour al-Turki told the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“The security forces were trying to arrest a wanted man, but the armed group started shooting at the security forces. So they had to deal with the situation as required,” the spokesman told the news agency.

Activists in Awamiya told CNN the wanted man was Khaled al-Labbad and identified the second person who was killed as Mohammed Habib al-Mnasif, 16. A third man was arrested, al-Turki said.

Al-Labbad, who has been on an interior ministry wanted list since January 2, was standing in front of his home with some of his friends Wednesday afternoon when the security forces arrived and started shooting at them, the activists said.

Activists posted an amateur video and several photos on social media sites showing a blood-stained sidewalk, where the shooting allegedly took place. The photos showed bullet holes in a wall by the sidewalk.

Islamic Tadamon Group, one of the main opposition Shi’ite groups in eastern Saudi, issued a statement Wednesday condemning the incident and said so far 14 people have been killed by Saudi security forces since last year, when some Shi’ites took to the streets, protesting what they consider injustices against the Saudi Shi’ite population.

Many Saudi Shi’ites accuse the country’s Sunni ruling family of denying them jobs and equal rights. But the government accuses Shi’ite regional power Iran of fomenting unrest among residents of the Shi’ite-dominated Eastern Province.