State media sources reported an explosion in Al-Qatif, Eastern province, killed at least two “fugitives” – a term indicating the victims were potentially being pursued by Saudi security personnel – on Thursday, June 1. According to initial reports, the blast occurred near the Sheikh Faraj al-Amran Mosque or the Mayyas Market that is located nearby. Some unconfirmed state sources said that the explosion was caused by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). Officials are still investigating the incident.
Sporadic clashes between gunmen and security forces often occur in the Eastern province (especially in Qatif and Dammam) and security forces regularly conduct raids in the region. The sociopolitical situation remains tense in Eastern province, which is mostly populated by Shi’a Muslims. Since 2011, Saudi Shi'a Muslims have staged numerous demonstrations against what they see as their systematic economic marginalization by the central government. Localized sporadic unrest is fairly common in the east of the country.
Individuals in Al-Qatif are advised to avoid the blast area and to monitor the situation.
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 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. Due to the risk of sporadic outbreaks of violence, the American government also prohibits its personnel from traveling to Qatif and surrounding suburbs as well as to Hofuf and surrounding suburbs (Eastern province). Travelers are advised to take the above restrictions into consideration.