May 11, 2019 20:32 Asia/Tehran

At least eight political dissidents have been killed in Saudi Arabia when regime forces raided a village in the kingdom’s oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province, as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim scholars and intellectuals continues unabated in the country.

Iran Press/Middle East:  Local sources, requesting anonymity, said security forces stormed into Sanabes village of Tarout Island on Saturday afternoon, triggering an exchange of gunfire with local residents.

The sources added that eight distinguished opposition figures were fatally shot in the process, Iran Press reported.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up what appears to be politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province. Western media coverage of protests in Saudi Arabia have been patchy at best, with mainstream Western media often ignoring what is going on in the country.

Over the past year, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Bagher al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Sheikh Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.

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