TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Saudi security forces killed eight people during a military crackdown on the predominantly Shiite eastern Al-Qatif region.

– World news –

During the heavy crackdown that occurred on Tarout island, just off the city of Qatif, eight people were killed, according to Reuters.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, said security forces stormed into Sanabes village of Tarout Island on Saturday afternoon, triggering an exchange of gunfire with local residents.

The sources added that a number of distinguished opposition figures were fatally shot in the process.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up what appears to be politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.