Two men were killed in the Shia Muslim region in eastern Saudi Arabia on Monday following protests over the arrest of prominent cleric and anti-government activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Akbar al-Shakuri and Mohammed al-Filfil were shot dead by police while taking part in a protest in Qatif in Eastern Province, according to the Rasid website.
“Two of them were dead. The other two were slightly injured. Competent authorities initiated investigations into the incident,” the Saudi Interior Ministry said, according to the BBC.
Nimr, who was arrested late on Sunday and was shot in the leg, was wanted as an “instigator of sedition,” according to the broadcaster.
Nimr had said more than a week ago that if he were killed or arrested, it would be sure to spark demonstrations in the region.
“When the aforementioned person and those with him tried to resist the security men and initiated shooting and crashed into one of the security patrols while trying to escape, he was dealt with in accordance with the situation and responded to in kind and arrested after he was wounded in his thigh,” Major General Mansour Turki of the Interior Ministry said, according to Al Arabiya.
Turki said Nimr, who has been accused by Saudi media of having links with the Iranian government, was taken to the hospital, where he will receive treatment for his injuries. Iran, which is primarily Shia, and Saudi Arabia, a country with a Sunni majority, have been in diplomatic spats in the past.Another police official told Al Araibya that he denied that security forces were targeting Shi’ites, saying that both Sunnis and Shi’ites are arrested if “they call for violence.”