Saudi police lay siege to a building where rioters are hiding. Image Credit: Al Riyadh

Manama: A Sudanese national was killed and 17 people were injured as riots broke out again in the Manfouha neighbourhood in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Several shops and around 30 cars were damaged as Ethiopians hurled stones and attacked Saudis and foreigners on Wednesday afternoon, local reports said.

The new riots followed those that occurred on Saturday and trigged by an identity check by the local police looking for foreigners who were staying illegally in the country.

Two people, one Saudi and another unidentified national, were killed in the clashes. “At around 3:30 pm, a group of Saudis had an argument with illegal foreigners that deteriorated into a violent fight,” Nasser Al Qahtani, the spokesperson for the Riyadh police, said. “Several of those staying illegally in the country attacked people and cars, resulting in the death of a Sudanese expatriate and in injuries to 17 people from various nationalities who were treated at a hospital.

The competent authorities moved in to investigate the incident,” he said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Riyadh on Thursday. Reporters for newspaper said they had seen a group of Ethiopians hurling stones at passing cars and assaulting a foreigner riding a bicycle and taking money from him. The police moved to the neighbourhood and started chasing the rioters who sought to hide in flats vacated by other Ethiopians who had moved to a shelter ahead of their repatriation.

Thousands of Ethiopians have been trying to go back home following the end of a seven-month amnesty for foreigners staying illegally in Saudi Arabia to formalize their situation.

The authorities warned that it would adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards those who did not take advantage of the grace period. Raids by the police to check identities, especially in areas where illegal foreigners are known to congregate, have led to the arrest of thousands of people across the vast kingdom. However, the situation turned dramatic in Riyadh on Saturday when two people, a Saudi and an unidentified foreigner, were killed and 68 were injured during clashes in the Manfouha neighbourhood between the police and Ethiopian rioters.

The police agreed to set up a special shelter to accommodate the Ethiopians willing to go home ahead of their repatriation. However, a police officer told local daily Al Sharq that no travel documents had been provided by the Ethiopian embassy to start the repatriation process. “We have intensified contacts with the embassy following the riots, but we are still waiting for the embassy to respond,” the officer, who was not identified, said, quoted by the daily on Thursday.