Seven killed as Saudi forces intensify attacks on besieged Shia town

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RADIO DANAN: Saudi forces have waged a fresh wave of attacks against a besieged town in the kingdom’s Shia-populated Eastern Province, killing at least seven people and injuring several others over the past few hours.

The casualties were reported over the past 48 hours after Saudi regime forces, equipped with artillery and heavy weapons, launched a series of fresh attacks against Awamiyah, located some 390 kilometers northeast of the capital Riyadh.

Human rights activists and media outlets confirmed on Thursday that at least seven local Shia residents lost their lives after they were sprayed with bullets by Saudi forces. 

There are reportedly several women and children among those injured in the raids. There are also at least two Indian refugee workers among those injured in the attacks.

The death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured are said to be in critical condition.

On Wednesday, a series of video footage circulating on social media websites showed Saudi regime forces shelling homes and buildings in al-Jamima neighborhood and al-Mosara, the old quarter of the town of Awamiyah.

Several homes, business and historical sites have been totally destroyed or partially damaged across the region.

The Saudi regime forces in riot gear have also set up barricades and security checkpoint to prevent people from organizing any gathering or protest rally. Local residents complain that police deployed at the checkpoints are snatching and stealing their personal belongings.

Several main entrances to the region have been closed and the regime forces have imposed heavy restrictions on movement of the citizens.  

Saudi authorities also shut down internet and mobile services across the area.

Residents have been forced to stay indoors as the regime has deployed snipers across the entire region. 

Reports also indicate that garbage has piled up as Saudi forces continue to prevent relevant authorities from collecting trash across several areas.

The developments come as a fierce crackdown on protesters there enters its 77th day.

Awamiyah has witnessed an increase in anti-regime protests and an ensuing crackdown as Riyadh has insisted to destroy al-Mosara, claiming the neighborhood’s narrow streets have become a hideout for militants believed to be behind attacks on security forces in the region.

Saudi authorities intend to turn al-Mosara into a commercial zone, despite warnings both by locals and the United Nations that the controversial plan would ruin the 400-year-old neighborhood’s historical and cultural heritage and could eventually lead to the forced eviction of hundreds of people from their businesses and residence.

Saudi troops equipped with heavy weapons have been deployed in Awamiyah since May 10, following fierce clashes between the regime forces and locals protesting against the destruction. 

A large number of civilians have lost their lives in the ongoing heavy-tactic crackdown by the Riyadh regime since then.
A number of human rights groups and activists have expressed deep concern about the living conditions of people in Awamiyah, who are suffering from a severe water shortage and are using private generators to produce electricity.

On May 24, UN experts criticized the ongoing attempts to demolish al-Mosara and accused the Saudi kingdom of erasing cultural heritage, violating human rights, and forcing residents to flee their homes. 

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