Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Eastern Province police force announced that its headquarters in the town of Al-Awamiyah in Al-Qatif had been fired upon following the capture of a wanted fugitive.
Police in Saudi Arabia announced that they had shot and wounded Abdullah Al-Asrih, a man wanted over his involvement in protests. He was captured along with a second suspect arrested on charges of selling drugs and alcohol.
Just hours after the arrest, the Al-Awamiyah police station was fired on by unknown assailants; one policeman was injured in the attack. The policeman in question underwent surgery and is now said to be in a stable condition.
Asrih’s name was included on a list of 23 suspects wanted in connection with the Al-Qatif province, which broke out in February 2011.
Asrih is a 20-year old Shi’ite wanted in connection with the Al-Qatif protests; he is semi-unemployed, having previously worked as a market porter.
According to information in the possession of Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi security authorities have been able to arrest 12 out of the 21 suspects, including Abdullah Al-Asrih, while the police continue to pursue the remaining 11 fugitives.
A confrontation between Saudi security forces and the suspects took place in an area intended for selling used cars on the Al-Awamiyah–Al-Nasirah road near the agricultural area of Al-Ramis.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Al-Turki told reporters that police wounded both men in the legs during an exchange of fire. He added that both men were involved in drug and alcohol dealing, both of which are illegal in Saudi Arabia.
He emphasized that the Saudi security forces will not hesitate to pursue fugitives, calling on those wanted for questioning to give themselves up.
Al-Turki also warned that anybody who helps the remaining 11 fugitives avoid capture will face criminal prosecution.
Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Asrih had previously been expelled from his father’s house following a family dispute. His brother is also reportedly serving a prison sentence after being charged with murder, although this is not thought to be connected to the Al-Qatif protests.
Other reports claim that Asrih had close ties with Shia Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, considered to be the godfather of the 2011 riots.