DUBAI (Dispatches) -- A soldier was reported killed by gunmen in the Saudi town of Awamiyah where a "siege" by security forces entered eighth day, according to the interior ministry. Five members of the security services were also injured.
Several people have been reportedly killed in the town after Saudi security services launched a raid in the Eastern Province town early on Wednesday, claiming the historic Almosara neighborhood was being used as a hideout for Shia militant groups.
Gunmen have repeatedly opened fired on police and roadblocks have been placed at entrances to the town, restricting access.
The Eastern Province has a large Shia population. Awamiyah, in particular, has been a flashpoint - in March, a teenager was killed by Saudi police after they "responded as necessary" to gunfire from militant groups.
One Awamiyah local, speaking to Middle East Eye on condition of anonymity, said that residents were working together under a state of "siege" to try and keep local amenities running.
"But regarding electricity still there is lots of houses outside Almosara without electricity, living on generators," they said. "As a result of the destruction of public and private property that was imposed by Saudi forces, many generators were damaged."
Video sent to MEE appeared to show concrete blocks placed on roads leading out of the town.
"Since the final exams started on Sunday, in specific periods people can go out especially in the morning during school time from a specific road, with fears of being harassed, arrested or being shot carelessly and killed as reported," the resident said.
"Even while answering your question, everybody in my town can hear the sounds of shooting by armored vehicles."
Awamiyah was also the home of Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric executed in January last year for "terrorism," leading to massive protests internationally, including the attack by angry protesters on the Saudi embassy in Iran.
Nimr was a driving force behind protests by Shia that began in 2011 and developed into a call for equality in the Sunni-majority kingdom.
Since then, scores of activists have been arrested or killed, sometimes due to torture and execution.
Ameen Nemer, an activist originally from Awamiyah, said the spiraling violence in the town stemmed from the government's harsh response to calls for reform.
"I believe the government has, from the beginning in 2011, dealt with the protesters' demands in a military way, in a police way, that's why the thing has turned into chaos," he said.