Two people have been killed in clashes between soldiers and Shia protesters in eastern Saudi Arabia, state media reported.
A soldier and a Shia gunman were killed in a shootout in the city of Qatif late on Friday, according to the interior ministry.
Spokesman Mansour Turki told the state news agency SPAs that a security patrol was shot at by four men on motorbikes. Another soldier was wounded in the incident. Four protesters were arrested, including one who was taken to hospital after suffering a bullet wound.
The deaths bring to 11 the number of people killed in the Qatif area since November. The oil-rich Eastern Province is home to a Shia majority that has long complained of marginalisation.
The world’s top oil exporter follows the conservative Wahhabi school of Islam, which regards Shia Islam as heretical.
Protests erupted in the region in March 2011 when a popular uprising in neighbouring Bahrain, which has a Shia majority and a Sunni royal family, was put down with the help of Saudi and other Gulf state troops.