The ministry did not identify the foreign country that directed the
Shi'ites. But officials said protest leaders were believed to have been in
contact with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, blamed for much of
unrest in the Gulf and Levant, Middle East Newsline reported.
Saudi analysts close to the government said authorities intercepted
phone calls by IRGC agents to Shi'ite organizers in Qatif. They said IRGC
ordered an escalation in unrest in both the Eastern Province as well as
The opposition Human Rights First Society said this marked the first
armed clash between Shi'ites and Saudi security forces. Qatif was the site
of pro-democracy demonstrations in mid-2011 that turned violent.
"This is not how we operate," Shi'ite cleric Nimr Nimr said. "This is
not in our interest."
Witnesses said Saudi security forces raided suspected Shi'ite
strongholds in Awamiya in search of two activists. They said the forces took
away the fathers of the activists, which sparked resistance by Shi'ite
The Interior Ministry said the Shi'ite resistance included the use of
weapons. The ministry said security forces were attacked by up to 50 people
with guns, firebombs and rocks, some of them riding motorcycles to escape
Officials said 11 security officers and three civilians were injured.
They said nine security officers were shot and two others injured by
"Security forces managed to deal with those instigators on the spot," an
official said. "After they were dispersed, machine gun fire erupted and
grenades were thrown from a nearby neighborhood."