Saudi Arabia has confirmed that police opened fire at anti-government demonstrators just ahead of a planned day of rage.
Mansur al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi interior ministry, claimed shots were fired over the heads of the protesters after they attacked a police officer, Al-Jazeera reported on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters, including women, took to the streets of the eastern city of Qatif on Thursday.
Witnesses said as the rally was about to finish, police opened fire on them, injuring at least three people, all Shias.
The incident has drawn strong condemnation from the Human Rights First Society of Saudi Arabia.
Thursday’s demonstration was the latest of a series of small protests over the past three weeks, in which several people were arrested.
To pacify the protesters, Saudi authorities last week released 25 Shia protesters detained in the past few weeks.
Despite a warning last Wednesday by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal threatening strong action against street protests, people are back on streets of the oil-producing Eastern province of Qatif.
More than 32,000 people have backed a Facebook call to hold two demonstrations in the country on March 11 and March 20.
Meanwhile, security is tight in the capital Riyadh and other cities as tens of thousands are expected to take to the streets to demand deep political and economic reforms. Agencies