Middle East

Saudi Arabia police 'shoot and arrest wanted protester'

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Police in Saudi Arabia say they have shot and wounded a man wanted over his involvement in protests in a restive province in the east of country.

The interior ministry said Abdullah al-Asrih was one of two men arrested after a gun battle in the town of Qatif.

The ministry said both men were wounded in their legs.

There have been low-level protests for more than a year in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, where most of Saudi Arabia's Shia Muslim minority live.

Mr Asrih, a Shia, was on a list of 23 suspects wanted in connection with the protests, which broke out in February 2011.

A security spokesman said Mr Asrih and the second man were involved in the selling of drugs and alcohol, both of which are banned in the conservative kingdom.

The oil-rich Eastern Province is home to a Shia majority that has long complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni ruling family, the Al Saud.

Human rights groups say there is systematic discrimination against Shia in education, employment and justice. About 15% of Saudis are Shia.

Saudi Arabia follows the strict interpretation of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, and many Wahhabi clerics regard Shia as heretics.

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