Saudi Security Forces Arrest Wanted Man in Qatif

Saudi security forces arrested a wanted man following an exchange of fire for allegedly taking part in protests in the Eastern Province, the Interior Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The spokesman told the state news agency that security forces moved to arrest the wanted man Abbas al-Mazraa “after receiving information about the whereabouts of him and 8 other men accused of drug trafficking in a house in Awwamiya, where they were raided and arrested.”

Security forces came under heavy fire to prevent them from arresting the wanted men, the spokesman said, but there have been no injuries.

Al-Mazraa’s name appeared on a list of 23 wanted persons by the government in connection to protest demonstrations in Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia. In the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency the spokesman urged the remaining suspects on the same list to “quickly hand themselves over to security bodies.”

Local news site Rasid said the raid has resulted in a blaze that brunt down the house where the man was arrested with some of his brothers. Al-Mazraa’s mother and sisters were briefly detained, according to unnamed sources cited by the site. The raid also damaged cars parked in the street and neighboring offices, Rasid said.

Qatif has been rocked by sporadic violence since March 2011 as residents from the Shia minority clashed with security forces to protest what they say is discrimination by the Saudi government. Saudi authorities deny that they discriminate against Shia citizens and describe the protests as isolated riots.

Morsi Al Rabah, another man on the list of 23, was killed last month.