Gunman shoots two in al-Nimr’s hometown, unrest in Saudi’s Qatif province

Published January 4th, 2016 - 06:23 GMT
Shia protest the execution of al-Nimr in the coastal Qatif province. (AFP/File)
Shia protest the execution of al-Nimr in the coastal Qatif province. (AFP/File)

A man was killed and a child was moderately injured on Sunday evening when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police patrol in Saudi Arabia’s eastern predominantly-Shia Qatif province.

The incident occurred in the hometown of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent Saudi Shia imam who was executed on Saturday by the Saudi authorities. 

According to a local police report cited by the Saudi Press Agency, unidentified attackers opened fire on a group of police officers in the town of Al-Awwamiyya, killing one man and injuring a child. 

Since al-Nimr’s execution on Saturday, the Shia-Majority Qatif province has seen anti-government demonstrations, acts of sabotage, and the torching of public property. 

 ‘Grave mistake’

In a Monday statement reported by Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, asserted that Saudi Arabia "cannot undo the grave mistake it committed by executing religious scholars by severing ties with Iran".

The statement was Iran’s first official reaction to a Sunday announcement by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir that Riyadh had cut diplomatic relations with Tehran and that all Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to depart the kingdom.

In his statement, Amir-Abdollahian asserted that Saudi Arabia had committed "strategic mistakes" and had resorted to "hasty and ill-considered" practices, which, he said, had led in turn "to the deterioration of regional security and the rise of terrorism and extremism".

Saudi "mistakes", he added, "have also harmed Saudi citizens and Muslim states of the region through the conspiracy of deflating oil prices". 

Amir-Abdollahian went on to stress that Saudi diplomats in Tehran and in the Iranian city of Mashhad were safe and secure. 

The Iranian FM described Iran as "one of the most secure countries in the region, in which all diplomats can perform their functions safely and securely".

On Sunday evening, Riyadh announced it had severed ties with Iran following attacks by demonstrators on its diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad.

Al-Jubeir announced the move at a press conference held in capital Riyadh, where he announced that all Iranian diplomats would have to leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours.

Following the execution on Saturday of 47 convicts by the Saudi authorities -- including al-Nimr -- Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad.  

Demonstrators managed to set fire to the embassy building before eventually being dispersed by Iranian security forces.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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