May 6, 2016 / 12:00 PM / in 3 years

Saudi policeman shot dead in Mecca area after Islamic State raid: SPA agency

DOHA (Reuters) - Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Saudi policeman in the Mecca region, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Friday, after four suspected terrorists died during a raid in the same area.

Corporal Khalaf al-Harithi was shot late on Thursday while on duty at a police station outside the holy city of Mecca, SPA reported, citing a local police spokesman.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamic State has previously staged such attacks on security forces or the country’s Shi’ite Muslim minority, which is viewed by the jihadist group as heretics.

Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite community is largely based in the oil-producing Eastern Province.

On Wednesday Saudi security forces shot dead two suspected Islamic State fighters and two other militants blew themselves up outside Mecca, the interior ministry said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has been hit by a spate of deadly shootings and bombings targeting security forces or the Shi’ite minority since last year. Islamic State’s local branches have claimed many of them.

Islamic State is bitterly opposed to the wealthy Gulf kingdom’s Sunni Muslim rulers, whom it regards as having betrayed Islam through close ties with the West.

Reporting by Tom Finn

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