Saudi Shi'ites held a small demonstration in the oil-producing Eastern province, close to Gulf neighbour Bahrain, days after authorities freed Shi'ite prisoners following a similar protest, resident Shi'ite sources said on Saturday.
They said dozens of Shi'ites gathered on Thursday night in Qatif, the main Shi'ite town in the province, to demand the release of fellow prisoners held for long periods without trial.
There was no official confirmation of the demonstration which was also reported by Shi'ite website Rasid.com. It said protesters had carried pictures of prisoners whose release they demand.
Last week, Saudi authorities released three prisoners after Shi'ites in Qatif's neighbouring town Awwamiya staged a small protest, according to resident Shi'ites.
Shi'iites stand to benefit like other citizens from $37 billion in government benefits King Abdullah unveiled on Wednesday upon his return after spending three months abroad for medical treatment.
Awwamiya was the scene of protests for weeks in 2009 after police launched a search for Shi'ite preacher Nimr al-Nimr, who suggested in a sermon that Shi'ites could one day seek their own separate state.
Officials say Shi'ites make up 10 percent of the Saudi population, although diplomats put it closer to 15 percent.
ReutersLast Mod: 27 Şubat 2011, 16:49