GRAPHIC WARNING: Some readers may find these images distressing
By Iain Burns
A 3-year-old boy has died after being shot by Saudi Arabian security forces, activists in the kingdom have claimed.
Sajaad Mohamed Abu Abdallah was allegedly shot in his home village of Awamiya while he was in a car with his family during the holy month of Ramadan on June 12.
He spent two months in "harrowing pain" before dying in Damman Maternity Children's Hospital on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported.
Activists from the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said he was shot by an armoured government vehicle as the family's car drove past the village's police station.
They say Awamiya has been under "siege" since May 10 after the Saudi military was deployed on a "supposed mission to maintain order" in the Shia-dominated Qatif governorate on the Persian Gulf.
The bullet that ultimately killed Sajaad apparently entered the car's rear door, where he was sitting, before penetrating his right hand and then his waist before exiting his body.
Sophie Baggott, Policy and Research Associate, BIRD: "The tragic death of this young child means an investigation into these shootings is now more urgent than ever.
"The Saudi security forces" haphazard firing of live ammunition at Awamiya's civilians in June can no longer be an ignored incident."
She added: "Saudi Arabia's failure to even acknowledge the fatal shooting of civilians shows contempt for the victims and provides the security forces with impunity."
Meanwhile Ali Adubisi, director of the ESOHR, said a United Nations investigation was "urgently needed".
He added: "There is a clear absence of international scrutiny on Saudi Arabia's unprecedented violent military operations in Awamiya."
ESOHR reports that 30 people were wounded in shootings on the same day that Sajaad was killed.
They claim that live ammunition was being fired "indiscriminately" by security services and many hit pedestrians and cars.
The activists explain that local residents were under the impression the shootings were "retaliation" for the killing of Major Tariq bin Abdullatif Al-A'laqi in a bombing the previous day.
The Saudi Government has been told in the past by the UN to stop demolishing buildings of cultural heritage in the al-Musawara neighbourhood of Awamiyah.
In response to the allegations from activists, a spokesperson for the kingdom's Ministry of Culture and Information said: "On June 12th, police received a call from Qatif Central Hospital reporting the arrival of a 3-year-old child, Sajad Mohammed Abdullah Abu Abdullah, with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was accompanied by his uncle who told the authorities that their car was shot at from an unknown source while driving in Alwamiah.
"Sajaad is one of the victims of heavily armed gunmen who are continuously trying to target policemen and are the ones to fire indiscriminately in the vicinity. This has resulted in the death and injury of a number of citizens and policemen. Terrorist acts of this nature underline our determination to restore order to this area and maintain security for all citizens.
"Residents of Awamiyah voluntarily leaving to seek safe haven were supported and protected by police from deliberate targeting by terrorists, who tried to prevent them from leaving so they can use them as human shields. At all times, civilian life is of the utmost priority for the security forces and local police.
"The activities and destruction caused by local terrorists has left Awamiyah in the state it is in. Cultural heritage is something local authorities are determined to preserve and will work with the local community to ensure this is reflected in the rebuild of Awamiyah."