Last updated: 16 February, 2014

African migrant killed in clash with Saudi police

An African migrant was killed in an altercation with police in a suburb of the western Saudi city of Jeddah over the weekend, a police spokesman said Sunday.

Lieutenant Nawaf al-Buq said the incident took place Saturday as police were checking the IDs of a group of migrants suspected of being in the country illegally.

“When the police tried to arrest one of the Africans, the members of the group attacked them with a blunt object, which led them to open fire in order to take control (of the situation),” he said.

He said a bullet ricocheted and hit one migrant in the head, causing a fatal wound. Buq did not provide the man’s nationality.

Police have been cracking down on illegal migrants since the expiration in early November of a seven-month period in which they were asked to regularise their status or leave the country.

The operations have sparked deadly clashes, with two Saudis, a Sudanese and another foreigner killed, according to official figures.

The Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh has said three Ethiopians were killed in clashes.

More than 300,000 illegal migrants have been expelled since the start of the campaign, according to Saudi authorities.

Nearly a million migrants from various countries took advantage of the amnesty to leave voluntarily, while another four million were able to find employers to sponsor them, a legal requirement in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Expatriates account for a full nine million of the oil-rich kingdom’s population of 27 million.

Despite its huge oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has a jobless rate of more than 12.5 percent among its citizen population, a figure the government has long sought to cut.