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Saudis blame foreign country for unrest

Saudis blame foreign country for unrest
A woman participates in a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran, Iran on April 8, 2011. Hundreds of foreign clerics and others living in Iran protested in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy condemning the Saudi military support for the Bahrain government. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo

AWAMIA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabian officials blamed an unidentified "foreign country" for unrest in the kingdom after an outbreak of violence in a Shiite town.

The Ministry Department, quoting the state's news agency, said assailants in Awamia in an eastern province fired machine guns and threw Molotov cocktails Tuesday, injuring 11 security personnel and three civilians, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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"A foreign country is trying to undermine national security by inciting strife" in Awamia, the statement said. The statement included a warning that an "iron fist" would be used against anyone trying to undermine the kingdom's security.

While the statement didn't name any country, Bikya Masr reported Saudi officials blamed Iran for the unrest.

Human rights activists said the violence began when police fired into the air to disperse protesters gathered outside a police station to demand the release of two men.

The eastern province is home to Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority -- about 10 percent of its population -- and its huge oil reserves.

Shiites have complained about discrimination when job-searching and about harassment by the authorities, the Journal said. The government said Saudi law treats Shiites and Sunnis equally.

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The two men were accused of having leadership roles in Shiite protests in March after Saudi Arabia deployed troops to subdue Shiite protests in Bahrain, Bikya Masr said.

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