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Middle East

Shiite wanted over Saudi protests surrenders: police

A Saudi police officer checks the boot of a car at a security checkpoint in Saudi Arabia's eastern Gulf coast town of Qatif.

RIYADH: A Saudi man wanted in connection with protests in 2011 among the Shiite Muslim minority in the conservative, Sunni-majority kingdom has handed himself in, police said on Sunday.

Musa Jaafar Mohammed al-Mabyuq surrendered to police in the mostly Shiite district of Qatif, in Eastern Province, a police spokesman said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Mabyuq "will be dealt with according to legal procedures," the unnamed spokesman said, praising "the constructive role of his family" in the surrender, without giving further details or saying when he had given himself up to the authorities.

The unrest in Eastern Province started after an outbreak of violence between Shiite pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina, in western Saudi Arabia, in February 2011.

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

Eastern Province is home to most of the kingdom's two million Shiites, who represent 10 percent of the Saudi population.

Mabyuq had figured on a list of 23 Saudis wanted in connection with the protests among the province's Shiites that broke out in March 2011.

Several of the 23 suspects on the wanted list have reportedly been killed in shootouts and others have been arrested or turned themselves in.

Human rights groups say more than 600 people have been arrested since the spring of 2011, most of whom have since been released.

 

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