4 killed in clashes in Saudi Arabia, ministry says
November 24, 2011 -- Updated 1812 GMT (0212 HKT)
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki holds a news conference at the Saudi Officers club in Riyadh on November 24, 2011.
- Gunfire breaks out during a funeral procession in Saudi Arabia
- Nine people also injured in protests, Interior Ministry spokesman says
- Shiite protesters earlier this year urged government to release prisoners, grant rights
(CNN) -- Four people were killed and nine people were injured in clashes in Saudi Arabia, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
Two people were killed in protests, then two more died when gunfire broke out during a funeral procession, Interior Ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki said.
The fighting occurred in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, where many Shiites in the predominantly Sunni country live.
Al-Turki blamed "unknown criminal sources" for the casualties.
"The goal of the rioters is to achieve suspicious objectives dictated to them by their masters abroad," al-Turki said. He did not specify to which country he was referring.
There have been street disturbances in nearby Bahrain, a predominantly Shiite country ruled by a Sunni monarchy. And there has been tension between Iran, also a predominantly Shiite nation, and the Sunni world.
Earlier this year, Shiite protesters in the Qatif region urged the Saudi government to release Shiite prisoners and grant more rights. Those protests, which were peaceful, also urged the withdrawal of regional forces from Bahrain.
Al-Turki said Thursday's violence in Qatif "started gradually Monday and it escalated with what happened today."
Part of complete coverage on
Are you in a country affected by unrest? Send iReport your images, videos, and stories -- but don't do anything that could put you at risk.
For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
December 17, 2011 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
The desperate protest of a Tunisian fruit vendor sparked a revolution that has swept the Arab World throughout 2011.
December 17, 2011 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
CNN looks at how the protest of a Tunisian fruit vendor sparked a revolution that's swept the Arab world throughout 2011
December 17, 2011 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation one year ago was an act which symbolized the frustration and desperation of millions in the Arab world.
November 21, 2011 -- Updated 2005 GMT (0405 HKT)
Common factors have shaped the chaos in the Middle East and Europe, including high unemployment, slow growth, inexperienced leaders
Today's five most popular stories