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Saudi Bulldozers Flatten Shia Town as Residents Flee

Saudi Bulldozers Flatten Shia Town as Residents Flee Saudi Bulldozers Flatten Shia Town as Residents Flee

The Saudi government has been forcibly relocating residents of the restive city of Awamiya, situated in Al-Qatif region, as clashes continue between soldiers and militant groups in the old city.

Hundreds of people have fled or been evacuated from Awamiya since the beginning of the current troubles which have killed at least seven people, including two police officers. According to al-Hayat newspaper, the government received requests from residents and farmers around Awamiya to help them flee the violence, Middle East Eye reported.

However, activists say that residents have been driven out of their homes and their properties seized by private development companies, primarily in and around the historic Almosara district.

Awamiya has long been a flashpoint for protests by the Saudi Shia minority —the influential cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed by the Saudi government in 2016, came from the town and demonstrations and unrest have been frequent.

Al-Hayat quoted Falah al-Khalidi, the governor of Qatif province, as saying contracts had been signed “for a number of furnished apartments in the city of Dammam to shelter those interested in leaving neighborhoods near Almosara”.

However, according to social media reports and activists, many of those displaced have yet to be rehoused.

Confirming precise details about the situation in Qatif has long been difficult due to tight controls over media scrutiny imposed by the Saudi authorities.

Reuters reported earlier this year that foreign media could visit the area only if they accompanied by government officials, purportedly for safety reasons.

Last week, Canada announced it would be investigating possible use of its equipment in the operations in Qatif, following a report in the Globe and Mail that light armored vehicles sold by Canada to Saudi Arabia had been involved in the clashes.

The UK government, one of Saudi’s closest allies, has approved at least 194 export licenses for arms and related equipment to Saudi Arabia since March 2015, worth more than $4.3 billion. Among the products bought are guns, crowd control and anti-riot equipment.

The British Foreign Office refused to answer questions about the situation in Awamiya and whether there was any investigation into the use of British equipment.

 

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