RIYADH - Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it has arrested nine people in Qatif, a center of its Shi'ite Muslim minority, and accused them of involvement in the shooting of three members of the security forces.
"Security forces raided one of the hideouts in Qatif on Monday evening where nine people of Saudi nationality who were behind these events were concealed and arrested them all," the interior ministry said.
The three security men had been shot and injured by "unknown persons" when patrolling Qatif on Jan. 14 and Jan. 18, the ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.
Earlier in January a young Shi'ite protester was shot dead by security forces during clashes, activists had said, following the deaths of four Shi'ite protesters in November.
The conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom and world's top oil exporter said on Jan. 15 that a member of its security forces had been shot and wounded while on patrol in Qatif, where Shi'ite activists and the Saudi authorities have repeatedly clashed in recent months.
Saudi Arabia is sensitive to any Shi'ite unrest in its Eastern Province, home to its huge oil reserves, because of what it sees as possible Iranian attempts to stir up sectarian violence.