An attack on a security patrol in the in Al-Awamiya neighborhood of Qatif (Eastern Province) on Thursday, July 6, resulted in the death of a security officer and injured six others, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The incident is being investigated as a terrorist attack.
This is the latest attack in a string of similar attacks in the Qatif area, where violence has intensified in recent weeks. On Tuesday, one policeman was killed and three others were wounded in the same area.
Eastern Province is home to numerous Shi'a militants classified by the government as terrorists. Sporadic clashes between these militants and security forces occur frequently in the province (especially in Qatif and Dammam) and security forces regularly conduct raids in the region.
Generally speaking, sociopolitical tensions are high in the province, which is mostly populated by Shi'a Muslims, whereas the rest in the rest of the country the majority of the population is Sunni. 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. The Islamic State (IS) has previously launched attacks on Shi'as in Qatif.
Individuals in the Eastern Province are advised to avoid any form of gatherings and to monitor the situation. Due to the risk of sporadic outbreaks of violence, the American government prohibits its personnel from traveling to Qatif and surrounding suburbs as well as to Hofuf and surrounding suburbs.
More generally, given the prevailing terrorist 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.