Saudi Arabia Police Break Up Rally in East, Activist Says

Saudi Arabian security forces broke up a rally in the eastern city of al-Qatif, a day before what anti-government demonstrators have called a “Day of Rage,” Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, a local activist, said.

Al-Mugaiteeb, president of the al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia- based Human Rights First Society, said a doctor who attended to the wounded told him that two people were injured at the rally, in the Shiite Muslim-dominated city. He didn’t have details on how the injuries occurred. Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki had no immediate comment.

Regional unrest, which has so far toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, has reached Saudi Arabia’s neighbors Yemen, Oman and Bahrain, the island-kingdom where a Sunni family rules the majority Shiite population. In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi is fighting rebels who seek to end his four-decade rule.

Crude oil futures pared losses after the Associated Press reported that police in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, opened fire to disperse protesters.

Crude oil for April delivery declined $1.45, or 1.4 percent, to $102.93 a barrel at 2:21 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 25 percent from a year ago. Oil traded at about $101.50 before reports of the gunfire.

Police faced the protesters and fired percussion bombs, followed by gunfire, which caused the crowds to flee, the AP reported, citing a witness who wasn’t identified by name.

U.S. officials said Saudi authorities used “less-than- lethal” means on protesters, CNBC said, without naming the officials. The security forces fired rubber bullets, CNBC reported.

Protests are outlawed in the kingdom, whose ruling family applies a strict version of Sunni Islam. Shiites are a minority in the country.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said yesterday his government believes dialogue is the best way to solve problems in the kingdom.

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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