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Saudi police break up protest of foreign workers

Published: Updated:

Saudi security forces on Saturday dispersed a protest by African migrant workers staged in the capital Riyadh, nearly one week into a visa crackdown in which thousands have been detained.

One Saudi and another person, whose nationality and identity remains unknown, were killed, said a police statement carried by the Saudi state news agency.

Police 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 missiles at cars and police, according to Reuters witnesses.

Deputy Emir of Riyadh Prince Turki Bin Abdullah visited the scene of the events to oversee the police response.

Riyadh police spokesperson Brigadier Nasser Qahtani said in a statement that the undocumented workers were asked to hand themselves over for deportation.

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 kingdom.

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.

(With Reuters)