Sat Jul 8, 2017 04:03PM
This file photo shows Saudi police officers in the capital Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)
This file photo shows Saudi police officers in the capital Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)

At least two Saudi police officers have been wounded following an attack on their patrol vehicle in the kingdom’s oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province amid the ruling regime’s heavy-handed crackdown there.

“The patrol was targeted by an explosive projectile when passing by a building under construction in … al-Naserah district in Qatif,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement published on the official Saudi Press Agency on Thursday.

The statement added that the two wounded policemen have been transferred to nearby hospitals, and security officials have launched an investigation into the incident.

The incident occurred only two days after a special forces officer lost his life and three others sustained injuries in the same area.

On July 6, a soldier was killed and three others were wounded, when a patrol vehicle was hit by “an explosive projectile” in the al-Mosara quarter of Awamiyah town, located some 390 kilometers northeast of the capital Riyadh.

Awamiyah has witnessed an increase in anti-regime protests and an ensuing crackdown as Riyadh has insisted to destroy al-Mosara, claiming the neighborhood's narrow streets have become a hideout for militants believed to be behind attacks on security forces in the region.

Security forces equipped with heavy weapons have been deployed in Awamiyah since May 10, following fierce clashes between the regime forces and locals protesting against the destruction.

The undated photo, taken by a local resident and shared on Twitter, shows an armored vehicle and a bulldozer standing by to demolish buildings in the town of Awamiyah, eastern Saudi Arabia.

Bulldozers escorted by heavily-armored military vehicles have demolished several houses, business and historical sites across the Shia-majority region over the past few weeks.

More than a dozen people have lost their lives in the ongoing heavy-tactic crackdown by the Riyadh regime since then.

On May 24, UN experts criticized the ongoing attempts to demolish al-Mosara and accused the Saudi kingdom of erasing cultural heritage, violating human rights, and forcing residents to flee their homes.

Since February 2011, Saudi Arabia has stepped up security measures in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which has been rocked by anti-regime demonstrations, with protesters demanding free speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination.

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.