DUBAI - Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims turned out for the funeral of a man killed during protests triggered by the arrest of a prominent Shi'ite Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern province, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Mohamed al-Felfel was one of two men shot dead on Sunday in what an Interior Ministry spokesman described as a "criminal act" after protests broke out following the arrest of Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on sedition charges.

Activists say the two men were killed by police snipers stationed on rooftops. The Saudi Interior Ministry denied the report.

The cleric's arrest and killings have raised the temperature in one of the most volatile regions in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom's Shi'ite Muslim minority is concentrated. The US embassy in Riyadh has warned its citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the area.

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