Riyadh: Saudi security forces have arrested several Shiites across the kingdom including two clerics over the past days for unspecified reasons, rights activists said on Tuesday.

The arrests include Dr Abbas Al Abbad, who works at the Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, university professor Ali Al Haji and banker Ahmad Al Nasser, said the activists.

The three who were arrested in the capital are originally from Al Ahsa city, in the Eastern Province, where the kingdom’s Shiite minority is concentrated.

Security forces also simultaneously arrested Ebrahim Al Humaidi in the capital, and his brother Hussain in the town of Sihat, also in the Eastern Province, the sources said requesting anonymity.

In the western city of Jeddah, police arrested Shiite cleric Mohammad Al Attiyah, while cleric Badr Al Taleb, from Sihat, was arrested in Makkah, also in the Western Region, activists said, adding that another Shiite Abdullah Khamis was arrested in Ahsa.

Police were not reachable for comment.

Since early 2011, mainly Shiite towns in the Eastern Province have seen sporadic protests and confrontations between police and Shiite residents who complain of marginalisation.

There are an estimated two million Shiites in the kingdom of around 27.5 million people.

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz on January 14 appointed Prince Saud Bin Nayef the new governor of the Eastern Province, replacing Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd who was in office since 1985 but was strongly criticised by Shiite activists for his aggressive policy towards them.

Prince Saud’s appointment was welcomed by Shiite dignitaries in the Eastern Province.