- Title: Security campaign against Shi'ite Muslim gunmen reduces buildings to rubble
- Date: 9th August 2017
- Summary: DAMMAM, SAUDI ARABIA (AUGUST 09, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF DAMMAM MUNICIPALITY VARIOUS OF ESAM ALMULLA, DAMMAM ACTING MAYOR SPEAKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ESAM ALMULLA, DAMMAM ACTING MAYOR, SAYING: "Of course we started working on the idea for this project more than six years ago. We informed everyone in the community there would be development stages for a several areas in Qatif, starting with Musawara in the middle of Awamiya. This is the first stage." VARIOUS OF ALMULLA SPEAKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ESAM ALMULLA, DAMMAM ACTING MAYOR, SAYING: "Of course, we didn't get approval from everyone, but most Qatif and Awamiya residents wanted to see their neighbourhoods developed and attracting visitors from amongst the residents and beyond." VARIOUS OF ALMULLA EXPLAINING THE MUSAWARA PROJECT IN AWAMIYA VARIOUS OF MUSAWARA PROJECT SKETCH AWAMIYA, SAUDI ARABIA (AUGUST 09, 2017) (REUTERS) SAUDI SECURITY CLOSE TANK DOOR TO MOVE ONTO AWAMIYA REPORTERS CONVOY VARIOUS OF DESTRUCTION IN AL-MUSAWARA, AWAMIYA SPECIAL FORCES POSING VARIOUS OF DESTRUCTION IN AL-MUSAWARA TRAVELING SHOT VARIOUS OF DESTRUCTION IN AL-MUSAWARA VARIOUS OF STREETS SOUTH OF AWAMIYA (NEAR AL-MUSAWARA) VARIOUS OF SHI'ITE FLAGS CIRCLE IN CENTRE OF AWAMIYA WITH SAUDI FLAG VARIOUS OF SUNSET OVER PALM GROVES AWAMIYA CHECKPOINT SILHOUETTE OF SOLDIER AT CHECKPOINT
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2017 22:31
- Keywords: Security push security campaign against Shi'ite Muslim gunmen Security forces Awamiya's old quarter Shi'ite gunmen hid in Awamiya old town bulldozers
- Location: DAMMAM AND AWAMIYA, SAUDI ARABIA
- City: DAMMAM AND AWAMIYA, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Defence,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016TFSD3B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A security campaign against Shi'ite Muslim gunmen in eastern Saudi Arabia has reduced dozens of buildings in the town of Awamiya to ruins and forced thousands of residents to flee.
Security forces have been trying for three months to flush out gunmen responsible for years of attacks on police in the small town of 30,000 that has been the centre of protests by minority Shi'ites against the Sunni government.
Journalists on a government tour of the town on Wednesday (August 9) were the first outside witnesses of the damage caused by the fighting in the otherwise tightly controlled kingdom, a key Western ally and the world's top oil exporter.
Reporters escorted by Special Forces in armoured vehicles saw streets in Awamiya's old quarter, known as al-Musawara, transformed into a war zone a world away from the sparkling cityscapes elsewhere in the energy-rich Gulf.
The authorities say they are clearing the area to build an attractive district of shopping centres, office buildings, green spaces and fountains in place of al-Musawara.
Casualty figures have not been published, but an interior ministry representative said eight members of a police rapid reaction team and four Special Forces troops had been killed since the latest campaign began.
Residents said nine civilians had been killed in the violence in the past week and more than 20,000 had fled or been evacuated to safer towns and villages nearby.
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