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Saudi police officer killed in restive Eastern Province

The file photo shows Saudi policemen in the capital Riyadh. (Via AP)

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister says a police officer has lost his life in the kingdom’s oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province as deadly fighting escalates there.

The ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday that a member of the special forces died when a rocket-propelled grenade targeted his patrol unit in the al-Mosara area of Awamiyah town, located some 390 kilometers (242 miles) northeast of the capital Riyadh.

The statement added that five other members of the security service also sustained injuries and were taken to hospital to receive medical treatment.

The development comes as Saudi regime forces have laid siege to Awamiyah for a week in the wake of fierce clashes with local residents, who are irate at the demolition of the historic al-Mosara neighborhood for a planned development project. 

Pictures and videos of bulldozers, escorted by heavily armored military vehicles and heading towards the site, have gone viral.

Activists say Awamiyah locals are suffering severe water shortage and are using private generators to produce electricity.

Last week, Saudi regime forces shot dead a two-and-a-half year old child and a young man in Awamiyah. Lebanon's al-Ahed news website reported that the child's mother was also critically injured in the Thursday attack.

The kingdom’s Shia-majority Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011.

Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners as well as an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-producing region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the Saudi regime. 

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism law so as to repress pro-democracy movements.

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