Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

Saudi Special Forces troops stand guard in the village of Awamiya in Qatif governorate on August 9, 2017 following a security campaign against criminals and terrorists. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)
Updated 14 August 2017
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Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

AL-AWAMIYAH, Eastern Province: Saudi Special Security Forces (SSSF) have almost completely rid Al-Musawara of terrorists and criminal elements that have laid siege to the Shiite-majority village for months.
In intense battles over the last four days, a number of wanted terrorists surrendered, were arrested or were killed in the small village, restoring residents’ hope that life can return back to normal in a place where Shiite and Sunni Muslims lived side by side for centuries.
In May, Qatif governorate began bulldozing Al-Musawara, a 400-year-old part of Al-Awamiyah that had been taken over by armed militants who terrorized residents for the past six years.
Demolition of the farming community of 6,000 residents began in order to develop the area into a shopping and recreational complex that can serve the needs of the communities there.
But when bulldozers moved in to level the dilapidated village, they were met with heavy fire, including rocket-propelled grenades.
“This village has existed for years, and there was never really a problem here,” said one SSSF member who cannot be identified for his safety and because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“Six years ago this was a normal yet aging village. When the development project began and residents moved out, wanted persons took shelter there and began targeting police patrols. Several officers were killed.”
Falah Al-Khalidi, acting governor of Qatif, told Arab News that residents who wanted to leave the besieged village were relocated to furnished apartments at the government’s expense, and were later given fair compensation for their property.
“There are 488 buildings in Al-Musawara,” Al-Khalidi said. “Compensation has been paid in the amount of SR900 million ($240 million), far more than the properties are worth.”
As residents accepted the compensation and left Al-Musawara, many buildings were abandoned and the village became a ghost town, with drug dealers, arms merchants, terrorists and other criminals moving in.
“Wanted terrorists and other criminals from outside Qatif province began coming to Al-Musawara and staying because they knew police couldn’t get them there,” Al-Khalidi said.
An Interior Ministry source said construction workers, civilians and security patrols were targeted and killed, including a 2-year-old Saudi and a Pakistani man.
The gunmen had tried to stop redevelopment work and fired at security personnel and passers-by.
In addition to the death of the Saudi child and Pakistani national, 10 others, including six Saudis, were seriously injured in a single incident.
As Arab News was escorted in an armored personnel carrier on Tuesday, it saw destroyed buildings riddled with bullet holes, burned-out businesses, and wrecked and abandoned cars.
It looked like a war zone due to the fierce fight against security forces that had mobilized to protect residents.
Even with 95 percent of Al-Musawara under control, according to the Interior Ministry, there were shots fired near the armored cars carrying Arab News and ministry officials. This resulted in a quick escape.
“There are still eight or nine people we’re looking for, and we’ll find them,” the ministry source said.
“We expect that in a couple of days, the area will be completely under the control of security services so demolition can be completed and the development begun.”
Arab News saw Pakistani construction workers and bulldozer operators wearing bulletproof jackets and helmets for their protection.
The development project will take two years, and will include a mall and entertainment venues, among other things.


Saudi Civil Defense chief launches recruitment drive for local manufacturers

Civil Defense Director General Lt. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Amro inaugurates an exhibition to support local manufacturers in the Kingdom. (SPA)
Updated 15 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi Civil Defense chief launches recruitment drive for local manufacturers

  • Al-Amro stressed the directorate’s efforts to strengthen the spare parts manufacturing industry locally

JEDDAH: An initiative to encourage manufacturers to supply parts for Saudi Civil Defense machines and technical equipment has been launched in the Kingdom.

Lt. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Amro, director-general of the Civil Defense, opened an exhibition aimed at supporting local businesses looking to produce components to world-class quality standards for the General Directorate of Civil Defense.

During the inauguration ceremony, Al-Amro stressed the directorate’s efforts — under the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — to strengthen the spare parts manufacturing industry locally in a bid to boost the national economy and meet the targets of the country’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

Al-Amro said: “This direction provides new manufacturing opportunities for national factories, identifies the General Directorate of Civil Defense’s needs and demands, and builds a long-term strategic relationship with the private sector in the area of local manufacturing of spare parts.

“A database will be created for parts that need to be manufactured, and it will be provided to local factories and companies that have the capacity to manufacture those parts.”

Delegates attending the exhibition were shown a film highlighting the support available to parts manufacturers, and Al-Amro presented awards and certificates to companies and individuals for their work in supporting the local manufacturing sector.

Assistant director-general of technical affairs, Maj. Gen. Omar Al-Baiz, praised the directorate’s efforts to seek out partners in the private sector and organize events such as the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversification of Local Manufacturing (AFED).