A Saudi police officer was killed and two other were injured in an IED explosion (improvised explosive device) in Qatif (Eastern Province) on Sunday, June 11. This attack follows a similar incident that occurred in Qatif on May 29, when police forces were also targeted in a bomb attack.
According to Saudi authorities, 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.
Sociopolitical tensions are high in Eastern 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.
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, to keep a low profile, and to 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.). Report all suspicious objects or behavior to authorities.
As a reminder, the majority of Western governments advise their nationals against travel to Saudi Arabia's southern provinces as well as areas near the Iraqi border. US authorities have also specifically restricted American government personnel and their families from traveling within 80 km (50 mi) of the Yemeni border as well as to the cities of Jizan and Najran without authorization.