Foreign workers and Saudi police clash in Riyadh, 2 people dead


Foreign workers carry their belongings as they leave the Manfuhah neighborhood of Riyadh on Nov. 10, 2013.


Fayez Nureldine

Two unidentified people died after protesting foreign workers and Saudi police clashed in the capital city of Riyadh over the weekend, after state authorities began earlier this month to round up workers who are in the country illegally.

At least 68 people have been reported injured and a police statement claimed hundreds -possibly 561 - have been arrested in Manfuhah neighborhood, home to many East African migrants, according to Saudi state news.

Apparently, unidentified people had taken over a few streets, which may have been near a shelter, and then began to throw stones at residents while also damaging property in the area, according to authorities.

However, as the Associated Press points out, the report does not give a reason for the so-called riot, though it does quote Riyadh police spokesman Brig. Gen. Nasser al-Qahtani as saying the protesters were foreign workers without work permits who may have been facing deportation.

Unconfirmed reports in Saudi Arabia last week claimed an Ethiopian had been shot dead by police after he had allegedly attempted to grab the officer's gun. Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response, saying it "condemned the killing of an Ethiopian and mistreatment of its citizens residing in Saudi Arabia."

About 7 million of Saudi Arabia's 30 million population are foreign workers, according to the Wall Street Journal, which notes that some experts believe the low-paid workers have depressed the nation's economy. 

Here's raw footage from Reuters of Saudi police and foreign workers on Saturday: