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Since early Monday morning, security forces stationed at the Awamiyah Police Station in the Qatif Governorate in the east of Saudi Arabia have been resorting to excessive and indiscriminate force by firing directly at civilian targets in the neighborhoods and on the streets adjacent to the Awamiyah Police Station.
According to information from eyewitnesses and local sources, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) has learnt that at least 30 people, including women and children, have been wounded and a number of houses and cars damaged, as security forces and armored vehicles stationed at the Awamiyah Police Station have fired live ammunitionindiscriminately at people in their homes, or intentionally at passerby pedestrians and carson streets visible from the Police Station.
Local residents believe that the indiscriminateshooting and open targeting of civilians by security forces is a retaliation to the announced killing of Major Tariq bin Abdullatif Al-A’laqiby unknown assailants late on Sunday, 11 June. On early morning of Monday 12 June, the Saudi Ministry of Interior issued a brief statement saying thatat 11:30pm on Sunday “while a security patrol was carrying out its mission in maintaining order at Al-Masoura neighborhood in Qatif Governorate, it was hit by an explosive projectile (explosive device) which resulted in the martyrdom of Major Tariq bin Abdullatif Al-A’laqi and the injury of two security men whose health conditions are stable.”
Within less than an hour of the reported incident that killed Major al-`Alaqi and wounded two security personnel according to Ministry’s statement, reports emerged of civilian injuries resulting from indiscriminate shooting coming from thedirection of the Awamiyah Police Station that serves as the headquarters of the security forces in the area.
None of the eyewitnesses and local sources whom ESOHR interviewed reported knowing anything about the incident that led to Major al-A’laqi’s death, but some said that there were rumors that suggested that Major al-A’laqi was leading the security campaign that has been targeting the area since 10 May 2017. Some sources also reported that the authorities’ longstanding use of excessive and indiscriminate force has recently led some to resort to arms.
An eyewitness told ESOHR that at around 1:10 am on Monday morning “a hail of bullets” targeted and damaged the car he and his family were ridingon way home close to the Police Station. Another eyewitness said thatat 1:20 am his car came under heavy fire from the direction of the Police Station forcing him to switch off his car’s lights and turn away. A third eyewitness reported that he heard loud gunfire as he was driving on a street facing the Police Station, and that when he quickly stopped and changed his car’s direction to flee, a bullet penetrated the side of his car that could have only been fired from the direction of the Police Station.
According to local sources, at around 5:50 pm on Monday, a bullet fired from the Police Station penetrated the hand of the four year-old boy Sajed Mohamed Abu Abdallah and scratched his waist while he and his parents were driving in their car. Among those injured is Eyat al-Muhsen, a local medical nurse, who was wounded in a car while passing by the Police Station. ESOHR has learnt that her medical condition has deteriorated significantly in the past hours.
Also among those shot and injured is Mohamed al-Nimr, the father of Ali al-Nimr, the young activist who is on death row after being arrested as a juvenile and sentenced to death based on confessions extracted under torture. Sources revealed that Mohamed al-Nimr – who is also the brother of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a highly popular cleric in Awamiyah who advocated for social justiceand whom the authorities executed in January 2016 – was shotin his left leg that resulted in a double fracture and is receiving treatment in a local hospital.
Residences close to the Awamiyah Police Station have also come under indiscriminateand even targeted fire. Local sources have told ESOHR that a number of bullets fired from the Station damaged the nearby house of a family and injured one of its female members. In another house, a bullet wounded Fatima al-Zaid, a Saudi Arabian woman who was preparing a meal in the kitchen.
The Saudi authorities have since 2011 killed dozens of political opponents from the Qatif, including children and religious leaders through extrajudicial executions and executions following torture and unfair trials at a security court. Many others from the Qatif have been detained without trial and some have been sentenced to harsh prison terms without evidence other than confessions extracted under torture.
Since 10 May 2017, the authorities have launched a vicious military assault on al-Awamiyah and its historical al-Mosawara neighborhood, and other areas in the Qatif Governorate of the Eastern Province. This assault has been characterized by use of excessive and indiscriminate force, forced evictions including through intentional arsons and demolitions, and destruction of private property and cultural heritage.
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights demands that the Saudi Arabian authorities immediatelystop targeting civiliansthrough use of excessive and indiscriminate force, or by any other means. It reminds the authorities of its obligations under international and national law, and urges it to put an end to the large number of gross and systematic human rights violations being committed by the security forces in the Qatif and to hold to account those who are responsible for these ongoing violations.