A member of the Saudi security forces was killed and four others wounded in demonstrations that erupted in a southwestern town over the closure of a mosque, the Saudi interior ministry said Monday.
A ministry spokesman cited by the official SPA news agency said the incidents occurred in the city of Najran after a foreigner residing illegally in Saudi Arabia was arrested for what the spokesman called black magic.
"Several people gathered around the provincial governor's residence to demand the release of the arrested person and opened fired on the house and set several cars ablaze," the spokesman was quoted as saying.
"A member of the security services was killed and three others wounded" in these incidents, he said.
The fourth member of the security forces had been seriously wounded earlier by gunshot when a man inside the house of the arrested person opened fire on police, he added.
Earlier reports did not mention the black magic element. They said several hundred Shiite Muslims from the Ismaili community held protests after the authorities closed the mosque.
The demonstrators took to the streets of Najran, near the Yemeni border, after the Saudi religious police entered the mosque, confiscated books and ordered its closure.
The protests ended a few hours later when the governor of Najran, Prince Meshaal bin Saud bin Abdel Aziz, agreed to meet Ismaili representatives.
They delivered a statement protesting against the closure of the mosque.
During the talks held in the Holiday Inn hotel, the 25-member delegation asked Prince Meshaal to take measures against those who had ordered the mosque's closure, the witnesses said. The governor's response was not immediately known.
The demonstrators did not clash with police and there were no injuries, the witnesses said.
However, regular police and the Mutawiya were still out in force early Monday around the Holiday Inn and at main intersections in the town.
Only Sunni Islam is officially allowed to be practiced in Saudi Arabia, which applies the stricter version of the majority branch of Islam, Wahhabism.
The Ismailis are an offshoot of the minority Shiites. Unlike the main branch of the Shiites, who make up the majority in Iran and are known as "twelvers" because they recognize 12 imams, the Ismailis recognize only seven and are thus known as "seveners." – (Several Sources)
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