DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi soldier was killed and three were wounded when suspected militants attacked their convoy in eastern Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of attacks in the troubled region.
The town of al-Awamiya, located in the oil-producing al-Qatif province, is a flashpoint between the Sunni Muslim government and minority Shi’ites complaining of discrimination.
The soldier was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade in the old part of the town known as al-Musawara and an investigation was underway, the ministry’s spokesman told state news agency SPA, but gave no further details.
Authorities have been bulldozing al-Musawara, a small part of the town with narrow streets which date back more than 200 years, to make way for a new project. Local officials say wanted militants believed to be behind attacks on security forces have been using the narrow streets to escape arrest.
Last month, a Saudi soldier was killed and two members of the security forces were wounded when an explosive device went off during a patrol in the same area.
Saudi Shi’ites complain of marginalization in the birthplace of Islam, which follows the rigid Wahhabi Sunni school that views the minority sect as heretical. Saudi authorities deny the accusations.
Qatif has seen protests for more rights for Shi’ite and these have become more frequent since Nimr al-Nimr, a Shi’ite cleric convicted of involvement in violence, was executed a year ago.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Sami Aboudi/Jeremy Gaunt