Saudi visa clashes kill 2

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 11.11.13
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Foreign workers carry their belongings as they leave the Manfuhah neighbourhood of the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday. (AFP)

Riyadh, Nov. 10 (Reuters): Saudi Arabian police clashed with foreign workers in a poor district of Riyadh on Saturday, nearly a week into a visa crackdown in which thousands have been detained and one man killed by the police.

Security forces in riot gear fired into the air and used truncheons to disperse large crowds as scores of men ran through the streets, some throwing stones and other objects at cars and the police, according to witnesses.

Two people were killed of which one was a Saudi while the other was unidentified, Saudi police said in a statement late on Saturday after it detained 561 people involved in the disturbances in the Manfuhah neighbourhood of southern Riyadh.

The police added that 68 people were injured.

Most of the foreign workers involved in the clashes appeared to be Africans.

In a previous statement, the police did not refer directly to Saturday’s clashes, or say how many had been injured or detained, but said that in light of “what has happened”, the authorities had designated a location for people to surrender voluntarily.

The Saudi authorities this year said they would no longer turn a blind eye to foreign workers breaking visa rules by working for companies that had not sponsored their entry into the world’s top oil exporter.

The intention is to end a black market for cheap imported workers, cut the foreign labour force, reduce the flow of remittances to other countries and make more private sector jobs available for Saudi citizens.

A seven-month amnesty for foreigners to rectify their visa status without penalty or leave the country — which prompted an exodus of hundreds of thousands of foreigners — expired on Monday, prompting the start of the crackdown. Thousands have been arrested.

On Wednesday, an Ethiopian was killed in a raid after he tried to grab a policeman's weapon, the Arab News reported on Friday.

Many of those caught in raids on shops, marketplaces, businesses and low-income residential areas are likely to be deported.