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Saudi Arabia arrests 'most dangerous wanted terrorist' in restive eastern region

The man was described as the 'most dangerous wanted terrorist' by Saudi media [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2020

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Saudi authorities have arrested a man they say opened fire at security patrols and carried out robberies in the country's restive eastern provinces.
Saudi authorities on Tuesday arrested a man accused of opening fire on a security patrol in the eastern Al-Qatif region, according to local media.

The man was identified by Saudi state television as Mohammed Hussein Al-Ammar - a man wanted by the kingdom since 2016 for his alleged role in attacking security forces and robbing vehicles transporting cash.

A report by the Al-Ekhbariya television station described Al-Ammar as "the most dangerous wanted terrorist" on one of its lists.

Al-Ammar's arrest in the eastern city of Qatif - home to many of Saudi Arabia's minority Shia population - comes amid heightened tensions in the region over the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike last week.

Riyadh has long accused Tehran of backing Shia militants in its eastern regions - a charge the Muslim minority group and Iran deny.

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province - which includes Qatif - has seen bouts of unrest since 2011 when protesters emboldened by the Arab Spring uprisings took to the streets.

The demonstrators have demanded an end to alleged discrimination by the Sunni-dominated government.

One of the leaders of the protest movement, prominent Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr, was executed in 2016 for "terrorism".

Nimr's execution exacerbated sectarian tension both across the Gulf and with Saudi Arabia's main regional rival, Iran. 

The Shia community is estimated to make up between 10 and 15 percent of the kingdom's population of 32 million, but the government has released no official statistics.

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