Anti-government protesters in Saudi Arabia's eastern region of Qatif demand the release of prisoners held without trial at a march that was later broken up by police with stun grenades and rounds of gunfire. (file photo)
Source: Press TV
Several people have been injured after police fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Saudi Arabia's eastern region of Qatif as Friday's million-man-march looms.
On Thursday, over 4,000 protesters thronged the streets in the eastern city of Qatif and clamoured for political reforms and the release of political prisoners, reports said.
According to witness accounts, police forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowd, leaving several people injured, while more rallies were held in solidarity with the people of Bahrain in the city.
Demonstrators also called for an end to military incursion in Bahrain, after Riyadh dispatched at least 1,000 troops to the Persian Gulf country to help quell protests there.
Protesters chanted and held signs that urged the government to stay out of Bahrain, and called for a million-man-march for Friday.
Witnesses added that just as tens of tanks were moving to Qatif, thousands of demonstrators including clerics and women continued their peaceful march in the city despite the tight security by riot police.
Anti-government protests have recently flared up in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the eastern parts of the country, despite a state ban on demonstrations in the kingdom.
Riyadh has stepped up its crackdown on anti-government protests in response.
Saudi Arabia's minority Shias has complained of discrimination, saying they often struggle to obtain senior government jobs and benefits available to other citizens -- a charge that the Saudi government has flatly denied.