Dozens of young protesters have taken to the streets in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, condemning the brutal conduct exercised by the regime forces, Press TV reports. Fourteen people were injured in clashes that broke out in Awamiyah, in the Qatif region, during the late hours of Monday after security forces opened fire on hundreds of protesters. The Saudi Interior Ministry said 14 people were wounded, 11 security personel and three protesters, but activists said about 24 protesters were wounded.
The authorities blamed an unnamed foreign power - by which they meant Iran - for stirring up strife. "A foreign country is trying to undermine national security by inciting strife in (the city of) al-Qatif," Saudi state television quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.
Over the past months, Saudi activists in the Eastern Province have staged several anti-government protests, demanding reforms and the immediate release of political prisoners. Saudi protesters have expressed determination to continue their protest in order to break the siege on Awamiyah, which is surrounded by security forces. The population of the oil rich Eastern province is mainly Shiite and complains regularly of repression by the Sunni Saudi authorities.
The British newspaper The Independent gave some more details of how the protests developed. Local activists told the paper that the unrest began on Sunday in al-Awamiyah, a Shia town of about 25,000 people, when Saudi security forces arrested a 60-year-old man to force his son – an activist – to give himself up.
Ahmad Al-Rayah, a spokesman for the Society for Development and Change, which is based in the area, said that most of the civilians hit were wounded in heavy firing by the security forces after 8pm on Monday. "A crowd was throwing stones at a police station and when a local human rights activist named Fadel al-Mansaf went into the station to talk to them and was arrested," he said.
Mr Rayah added that "there have been protests for democracy and civil rights since February, but in the past the police fired into the air. This is the first time they have fired live rounds directly into a crowd." He could not confirm if anybody had been killed.