Police Shoot Dead Saudi in Shiite District

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Saudi police shot dead a man and wounded another during an exchange of fire in Qatif, a predominantly Shiite district in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, a newspaper reported on Friday.

A police patrol came under fire Thursday night from a group of "agitators who were burning tires near a police station in Qatif," al-Eqtisadiah newspaper said, citing a police spokesman.

"As it approached the scene, the patrol came under fire and retaliated killing one of the agitators and capturing another," the spokesman said.

The police seized a gun from the suspect who was arrested and later discovered said the dead man was on its wanted list, the spokesman added.

Since early 2011, mainly Shiite towns in Eastern Province have seen sporadic protests and confrontations between police and Shiites who claim they are marginalized.

Shiites are estimated to number some two million in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

The unrest erupted after an outbreak of violence between Shiite pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina in February 2011.

The protests escalated when the kingdom led a force of Gulf troops into neighboring Bahrain the following month to help crush Shiite-led pro-democracy protests in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

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