Security forces killed an unspecified number of people in an operation on Tarout Island (Eastern Province), near the city of Qatif, per reports on Saturday, May 11. Further details were not immediately reported.
Heightened tensions are likely in the area and related demonstrations are possible over the coming weeks. Clashes between residents and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Saudi security forces have conducted numerous security operations in Eastern Province in recent years, mostly against Shi'a militants classified by the Saudi government as terrorist organizations. Sporadic clashes between these militants and security forces occur frequently in the province (especially in Qatif and Dammam). The Islamic State (IS) has also previously launched attacks on Shi'a communities in Qatif.
Sociopolitical tensions remain high in the province, which is mostly populated by Shi'a Muslims; Sunnis comprise the majority of the population in Saudi Arabia. Since 2011, Saudi Arabia's Shi'a Muslims have staged numerous demonstrations against what they see as the systematic economic marginalization of their community by the central government.
Individuals in Eastern Province are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Given the prevailing terrorism risk in Saudi Arabia, those present in the country are advised to exercise caution at all times, avoid public places lacking adequate security measures or locations deemed particularly likely to be targeted in the event of an attack (e.g. official buildings, military zones, etc.), and report all suspicious objects or behavior to authorities.
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