Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Saudi Arabia executes four men over attacks on police in restive Qatif peninsula

Executions come amid rising tensions and car bomb violence in majority Shia region 

Thursday 27 July 2017 12:50 BST

Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia after being convicted on terrorism charges related to violence in the east of the country, Saudi officials have said.

State television carried a statement from the Interior Ministry on Tuesday saying the four men’s death sentences were issued for crimes including joining armed groups and attacking police stations and security patrols in the restive Qatif peninsula.

The oil-producing region has been hit by a wave of recent violence - including car bombs and shoot outs between armed protesters and soldiers - over plans to demolish and redevelop a 400-year-old traditionally Shia neighbourhood in the town of Awamiya.

Trump commerce secretary praises lack of protest in Saudi Arabia, where it is punishable by death

Riyadh says terrorists hide in buildings there in order to launch attacks on the security services. In May, at least five people - including a two-year-old boy - were killed when the area was placed under siege-like conditions by the army.

It was not clear whether the men executed this week were part of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority, or the crimes they were accused of had taken place, although several local news outlets alleged that was the case.

There are more than 20 people on death row in the eastern province, which has seen periodic unrest since 2011.

In January 2016, Riyadh executed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr as well as dozens of suspected al-Qaeda members in what appeared as an attempt to show it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shia.

Sheikh Nimr’s death led to protests in both Qatif and Shia communities around the world. In Shia-majority Iran, attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions led to the cutting of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The executions in Qatif come on top of those of six people in Riyadh executed on Monday for murder and drugs offences.

The conservative Kingdom, which has one of the highest death penalty rates in the world, is thought to have executed 50 people so far in 2017.

Reuters contributed to this report

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in