Saudi forces kill gunman who opened fire on Shi'ite site: Saudi-owned TV, resident

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 16, 2015 1:54 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi security forces shot dead a gunman who opened fire on a Shi'ite Muslim meeting hall on Friday in the Eastern city of Saihat, state-owned TV and a resident said.

"A person who opened fire on a husseiniya was killed, and the attacker was in his twenties," Al Ekhbariya TV quoted sources as saying, adding that four people were injured.

The station added that his motives remained unclear.

A resident reached by telephone told Reuters that an attacker approached the meeting hall in a taxi but was stopped at a checkpoint manned by volunteers protecting the site.

Police arrived and a gun battle broke out, which the resident said injured several people and left the shooter dead.

Amateur video shared by local activists from inside the hall showed worshippers in flowing black and white robes, including young children, crowd toward the entrance to hear the gunfire before retreating in fear.

The ultra-violent militant group Islamic State has launched a series of deadly attacks inside the kingdom in recent months, aiming to stir sectarian confrontation on the Arabian peninsula to bring about the overthrow of Gulf states' ruling dynasties.

A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in an attack on a mosque used by members of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia in August, and two separate suicide bomb attacks in May on Shi'ite mosques killed 25 worshippers.

Since the attacks, volunteer security guards have sprung up around holy sites in the largely Shi'ite Eastern province of the kingdom, whose rulers follow a strict version of Sunni Islam.

Some local activists have accused security forces of not doing enough to thwart the assaults, a charge officials deny.

Saudi authorities said in July that they had rounded up 431 Islamic State suspects and had foiled numerous plots to attack places of worship and security forces.

(Reporting by Noah Browning, Sami Aboudi and Ali Abdellati; editing by Larry King)